Home chefs and gardeners, there’s an interesting ingredient or crop you’ll want to know about — the red noodle bean!
Also called the Chinese red noodle bean, yard long bean, or asparagus bean, this is a unique variety that’s gaining popularity because it’s easy to cook with and grow and has such an unusual appearance.
Keep reading to learn more about red noodle beans, and get ready to try something new!
What is the Red Noodle Bean?
This bean is exactly what it sounds like: imagine a string bean, but much longer and with a striking deep red or burgundy color.
The bean pods can grow to be 16 to 22 inches long and contain medium-sized red beans.
While it’s still gaining popularity internationally, this bean is well known in Southern China–hence its other name, the Chinese red noodle bean.
Cooking With Red Noodle Beans
These beans are a versatile ingredient to cook with. They have a peculiar look, but you can use them in many of the same recipes as both whole green beans and other types of beans. Like other types of beans, they’re a perfect vegetarian option for protein and substance.
You can leave them whole or remove the beans from inside the pod depending on what you’re making. If you like keeping dry beans in your pantry, these are a great choice to keep on hand for later use.
If presentation is important to you in your meals, be aware that the bean pod will lose a bit of its color when cooked. On the plus side, they do not have any strings like some green beans do, making them easier to prepare and more enjoyable to snack on.
Flavor of the Red Noodle Bean
Red noodle beans are sweet when eaten whole and have a very similar flavor to green beans. Some people say that the actual beans themselves have a nuttier taste and will take on other flavors well.
You can never go wrong with a quick and easy stir fry! You hardly even need a recipe for this one, and it can be completely tailored to your tastes.
Start with your favorite protein: chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, and tofu are all great options. Next, prepare all the vegetables you want to throw in, including roughly chopped red noodle beans in the pod. Broccoli, onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers all work well in a stir fry and will pair nicely with these beans.
Add a neutral flavor oil to a pan and let it get hot. Drop in your protein and let it brown, making sure to constantly move it around in the pan so it doesn’t burn (it is called stir fry, after all). Once it’s gotten some color, toss in your other ingredients and cook to your liking, continuing to stir. Just be careful to fully cook any meat.
Serve with a side of rice and season with soy sauce or any other sauce you prefer. That’s all there is to it!
Vegetable Soup or Hearty Stew
Soups are such a great way to use new ingredients because they’re so easy to personalize.
Red noodle beans are a perfect addition to soups and stews, and you can add them in however you like.
Simply chop up the pods into smaller pieces and saute or throw them into the soup pot to soften and absorb all the other flavors around it. This is a great way to add more veggies to a simple vegetarian soup or a hearty beef stew.
Remove the beans and use them on their own. Try a traditional sausage and kale soup with your red noodle beans instead of kidney or white beans.
Soups are the perfect time to use dried beans as well.
Just like with soups and stews, red noodle beans can be used in several different ways in salads.
They’re great raw or blanched and tossed in a fresh, crunchy, lettuce-based salad with other veggies. They work just as well with the beans removed from the pod in a three bean salad if you just can’t get enough beans!
They go well with just about any other legumes and vegetables, so you can put together your favorite flavors. It’s also easy to use up any leftover veggies in a quick salad.
Drizzle on your favorite salad dressing or keep it extra simple with just oil and vinegar.
They make a great snack, too!
Since they don’t have the strings that a lot of other types of beans do, you can go ahead and crunch away on fresh red noodle beans.
Another great snack is to batter and fry them with your favorite dipping sauce on the side.
Check out these other simple and delicious recipes:
Shrimp with Ginger-Garlic Red Noodle Beans
Where to Find Them
While these beans are becoming more and more popular, they’re still not a common bean you’ll find in chain grocery stores.
Start by checking your local Asian and specialty food markets, which are more likely to carry produce grown in Asian countries. Local farmers are also a good bet; even if they don’t already grow red noodle beans, they may be willing to give them a try.
If you can’t find them anywhere, grow them yourself from seeds that you can buy from one of our favorite retailers, True Leaf Market.
Growing Your Own Red Noodle Beans
Even without any gardening experience, these beans are a great crop to start with.
They’re hardy and prolific, fast-growing, and heat tolerant. Provide a pole for them as they like to climb as they grow — up to three feet tall! Pick a spot with full sun and water moderately.
Your plants will reach maturity in 50 to 80 days. You can plant them from spring through fall, which means you can also stagger your planting so you always have beans ready to harvest.
Try Some Red Noodle Beans!
Red noodle beans are a unique, beautiful, and delicious bean variety. Hopefully, you have some inspiration and confidence to try growing or cooking with them. You can do it!
And if you love them, don’t hesitate to learn more about other types of beans by visiting our beans page where you’ll find all our blog posts on beans and their close relatives!