Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Very Problematic Bean

One of my father’s summer culinary memories from his childhood is a very simple and rustic dish: young giant white beans cooked with slices of bacon and then served with fried onions and a lot of butter. Those beans are commonly called in Polish “fasola Jaś”.

It was not easy to find the English name for those beans. I raised the question on one Polish culinary forum to help me find a proper translation. Here are their suggestions:
- Butter Beans;
- Lima Beans;
- Broad Beans;
- Jack Beans;
- White Emergo Beans
- Giant Beans
- Jaś Karłowy Runner Bean
- Elephant Beans

It is not surprising that one can be lost in this nomenclatural mess, as Julia Child was lost while trying to find English equivalents for French names of fish when she had been working on her first book.
To make a long story short, following the Official Journal of the European Union, it seems that “Jaś Karłowy Runner Bean” (Phaseolus coccineusis the official English name.  It is a regional product, cultivated in southern Poland, in the Nida and Wisła lowland. Probably it still does not ring a bell. Thanks to readers of the Polish culinary forum, I found out that this type of local giant beans may be replaced, for example, by White Emergo Beans.

Those beans are very popular in Poland. One can buy them dry all year round in nearly every shop. They are white, oval, a bit flat, usually 2 to 3 cm long.  They contain a lot of protein, minerals (phosphorus and calcium) and vitamins.

On the opposite, young and fresh butter beans are available only in summer time, in August, and they are not so common, as opposed to dry ones. They are covered by a thin, white skin. Fresh seeds are light green. Their taste is not as floury as the one of dried white beans and you do not have to soak them in water, which is the reason that usually prevents me from preparing dishes with dried beans.

I am ashamed that, until last May, I had no idea that those beans were available fresh in the summer. Or rather my father should be ashamed, when he reproached me once: “And why don’t you cook fresh runner beans”? He asked. “What? Green runner beans? What are you talking about?” – I yelled. It was obvious that I had to find those beans once they would be in season. And here you have them.

This recipe is based on my grandma’s preparation, which was transmitted to me by my father. I served them with fried baby ceps (boletus), which appeared two weeks ago on a local food market. I could not refrain from adding some fresh thyme and grilling an extra 2 slices of bacon.

White “Jaś Karłowy” Runner Beans with Fried Ceps

300 g white fresh Jaś Karłowy Runner Beans (which you can replace with any other fresh white beans)
300 g fresh ceps (boletus)
Fresh thyme
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 big garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon

Prepare the beans: place the beans and 2 slices of bacon in a saucepan and cover with water (1 cm above the level of beans). Add some salt and cook (under the cover) until soft, but not overcooked (depending on the size of the beans, between 30 minutes and one hour). You really have to taste them. Strain them. Discard cooked bacon or use it for another purpose.

Prepare the mushrooms: Delicately clean mushrooms from leftovers of the forest. Scratch the stems to remove soil. Rinse the mushrooms delicately under cold water. Cut some mushrooms in halves, should some of them be too big. They all should be about the same size, so they will fry evenly. In a hot frying pan, melt butter, add onions and cook over medium flame for 5 minutes. Add garlic and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. Do not let onions and garlic burn. Add mushrooms into the frying pan and sauté them over medium flame until they release their juices and absorb them back in. In the meantime, in a small frying pan, grill slices of bacon until gold and crispy. Add thyme, salt and pepper generously, stir and add beans. Serve immediately with grilled bacon on top accompanied with slices of some good grilled bread.


Karolina said...

Not fussy, very comforting food. I have never tried young green beans, and I can imagine these are much better than a popular dry ones. Great choice with fresh thyme. I love it much much more than a dry one. I am so jealous about ceps. I have found some wild mushrooms near my village, but not edible I am afraid...

Bea said...

No wlasnie, mialam ten sam problem - gdy mama mowila mi o fasoli 'Jas', zupelnie nie wiedzialam, ktora to ma byc po francusku. Wielce przydatny wpis Magdaleno :)

PS. Jak lumbago? Mam nadzieje, ze dzis juz czujesz sie lepiej?

PPS. Wlasnie dzis 'odkrylam', ze nie bylo Cie na mojej liscie blogow :/ Tak to sie konczy, gdy sie wszystko zostawia 'na jutro'... Przepraszam magdaleno, blad juz naprawiony.

Pozdrawiam serdezcnie!

italia od kuchni said...

Niekiedy również miewam problemy z nazwami gatunkowymi w róznych jezykach. Bardzo pomocna jest wtedy nazwa łacińska i często po kłopocie.
Po włosku fasola Jaś to fagiolo di Spagna (fasola hiszpańska), jeśli się nie mylę - obydwie nazwy mają się nijak do siebie :) Ciężko byłoby wpaść od tak na tłumaczenie.

Pozdrawiam i życzę pomyślności w wydaniu książki.

Paula said...

nawet nie zdawałam sobie sprawy, że Jaś jest taki problematyczny :) pozdrawiam!

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

I know lima beans so that helped me imagine the dish. It's no fuss of cooking! Very simple but flavorful!

I knew how you felt on baking in summer now. yesterday i baked cookies while it was 92 F out. It was hot! :)

Pam said...

I love beans and this looks delicious! It's one great looking dish and the bacon makes it perfect. I'm new here and happy to find your blog with the great recipes!


Never head of that bean, but it looks amazing! I'll try this with butter beans!

lisaiscooking said...

I love all kinds of beans, but I don't find very many varieties fresh. This dish looks delicious. You made great use of your beans!

Heather S-G said...

Beautiful, beautiful beans. Your blog is just so stunning!!!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous photo of your dish! I've been thinking about making a delicious bean dish with some heirloom beans in my pantry, thanks I will bookmark your recipe!

Reeni said...

This is a dish my Father would absolutely love! Men love their beans, don't they? He is always hinting for me to cook them and when I do he is in his glory.

Juliana said...

Wow, love your post...and the bean dish looks delicious...I am trying to add more beans to our diet...thanks for the recipe. The pictures are awesome!

zlamushka said...

Hi Magdalena,

That is a beautiful dish, love it. I call these lima beans. Didnt know the word had so many English translations :-)

thanks for sharing and also for visiting my blog to leave all those wonderful commments.

my little expat kitchen said...

In Greece we also eat a lot of dried giant beans which are dried butter beans. I love them! I have posted a while back a recipe of that traditional Greek recipe. You can check it out if you want.
Love your recipe here, looks really delicious and I will definitely try it.

Szalony Kucharz said...

I'm not an expert in beans, but this glistening slice of bacon looks good enough to eat.

quinoamatorka said...

Magda, z wielkim zainteresowaniem przeczytałam wywiad z Tobą w Ugotuj to! Gratuluję, w pełni zasłużone wyróżnienie. Twój blog promuje to, co w polskiej kuchni najlepsze. A co do jasia - kilka lat temu ukazała się książeczka "Fasola z Doliny Dunajca", w całości poświęcona odmianie Piękny Jaś Tyczny, z wieloma przepisami, także na słodko.
Pozdrawiam Cię serdecznie i czekam na wieści o książce :)

tasteofbeirut said...

In the Chouf mountains, there is a specific very large white bean as well; it is prepared simply with a lemon and oil dressing; love the Polish method too, it is heartier but so delicious!

tasteofbeirut said...

La sciatique, ça fait mal. Hope that gets resolved. Bravo for swimming every morning I wish to do the same at some point!
Take good care and don't worry we'll catch up later!

foodtravelandwine said...

I just arrived!....and I love your blog....good recipes, perfect pictures, wonderful harmony.....Happy to find you!!.....Abrazos, Marcela

lo said...

Gratuluję i ciągle jestem pełna podziwu. Zapraszam Cię na mój blog do zabawy.

lo said...

Gratuluję i ciągle jestem pełna podziwu. Zapraszam Cię na mój blog do zabawy.

buruuberii said...

Magda, urzyteczny wpis! Czesto z pozoru prosty skladnik a sprawia rpblemy (jak moja "hruba mauka" np.). Ja tlumaczylam ta fasole opisowo na angielski, bo i tak nikt nie rozumial innych nazw, ale slowo "giant" pasuje jak ulal :)

A co bys powiedziala na fasole Jas w sosie z soku z cytryny, natki ietruszki, oliwy (oleju rzepakowego tloczonego na zimno), pieprzu czarnego?

Anonymous said...

Do you know a store in the USA that sells these beans?

I've been looking everywhere!

Or a store in Poland that ships to the USA?

Thanks so much. Loved reading this.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. In Poland with my sister, staring at these beans and furiously googling trying to work out what they actually were and how to cool them. Know we know.

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