Stir-fried long beans with red bell peppers (chow dul gock hoong ziu)

For the Cantonese, Chinese long beans are the only vegetable a woman is permitted to eat the first month after childbirth. Vegetables in general are said to be too cooling (too yin), but long beans are neutral — neither too yin nor too yang. Long beans are only available in Chinese produce stores and can be either dark green or pale green. The dark green beans are preferred by my family, as the texture is crisper. The beans are about 18 to 30 inches long and should be unblemished.

8 ounces Chinese long beans
1 large red bell pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Wash the beans in several changes of cold water and drain thoroughly in a colander until dry to the touch. Trim the ends and cut the beans into 2 1/2-inch sections. Wash the red pepper, then stem, seed, and cut into slivers.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the oil and beans, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup boiling water. Cover and cook on high heat 3 minutes. Add the red pepper, re-cover, and cook on high heat 1 minute. Add salt and sugar, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal.

Taken from Grace Young’s book “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” with permission. © Grace Young. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-684-84739-6.