Growing things are not my strong suit. Lush and verdant gardens deteriorate rapidly under my care. Fortunately I’ve learned to appreciate the skeletal elegance of barren branches. I’ve yet to get my green thumb working, but I know quite a bit about green thumbnails. Summer is the time for fresh peas and fava beans, so my thumbnail has been through quite a work out.
Shelling fresh fava beans is one of the age-old thumb strengthening exercises that predates competitive texting. Splitting open the tough spongy pod requires some brute strength, while removing the snug outer shell of each bean requires precision and finesse. I have a rhythm for shelling: snap—slide—puncture—twist—peel and squeeze. Some side effects of this repetitive process may include pain, boredom, and chlorophyll under your thumbnail. In the olden days, all this tedious and therapeutic preparation was done on the stoop, where you can ogle the foot traffic, catch a glimpse what your neighbors are making for dinner, and shoot the breeze with other fellow practitioners of the art of everyday home cooking.
I give myself a solid 20 minutes to shell each pound of fava beans. If you’ve never done it, you’ve never known the true beauty of fresh fava beans. They’re sweet, slippery, and smooth to the bite. There is none of that bland starchiness you get from the frozen or the overly mature variety. Get the fresh ones from the green markets. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny and a thumb, but it’s worth it.
If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or other tasty (or morbid) tidbits, contact DuanDuanat SnackBar.Kitchen@gmail.com.
Spring Rice with Fresh Fava Beans
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh fava beans, shelled
Rice wine (sake, mirin, or chinese cooking wine)
White soy sauce, to taste
Salt to taste
- Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium-high heat.Add shelled fava beans.
- Add a splash of rice wine and white soy sauce for umami. Stir-fry quickly until the beans turn a brilliant green.
- Remove from heat. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Mix gently into cooked rice for spring in a bowl.