May 3, 2008

Danger: Fava Beans

I recently received a report from dangerous agents in the field about the uncertain nature of Fava bean preparation.  Some names are obscured because it makes me feel like a secret agent:

We went to the Mid-east Food Centre (not a great middle-eastern grocery btw) to buy ingredients for fava bean salad. The canned fava beans all contained some kind of additive, and B was hesitant about buying them so I said if he really didn't want to we could get dry beans instead. After we got home I looked in our cookbooks and on the net for cooking instructions for dry fava beans and found what seemed to be the accepted method. So yesterday I spent the day sorting, rinsing, boiling, soaking, re-boiling and simmering the fava beans for the prescribed amount of time. With the beans cooked and cooling in the cooking water (as per the instructions) we chopped parsley, made tahini sauce (after ruining the first batch of roasted garlic - put it in the toaster oven and promptly forgot about it, only to remember it after about an hour sitting in the living room wondering where the burning smell was coming from. Did you know that garlic left in an oven turns into little brown garlic rocks?) and then dumped the beans into the strainer, only to discover they were a complete mess. About a third seemed to be okay, another third were like little hard shells full of mush, and the rest had turned into an unsalvageable mix of empty husks and loose much. At which point your ever helpful father looks in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook (a cast-off from C when she moved to [a Middle Eastern country]) and comes up with this gem: "Although fresh fava can be found at some Asian markets, they are not available in Ithaca, so we have never used them. Also, the course brown dried favas available in our markets have tough hulls and cook unevenly. So we experimented with canned favas - with good results."

So now we are left with a composter full of cooked beans, a half full jar of dried beans (which we will never use), and full containers of chopped parsley and tahini sauce. But no fava bean salad.

Sounds like a lot of trouble.  Personally I don't actually care for Fava beans, even from the can, but perhaps that's because I can't get them to come out right either.  I doubt there's really a dish you couldn't replace them with chickpeas in, though, so why go to all the trouble?  For the Lecter reference?  Not worth it.  The Dangerous Cook advocates taking chances, but for greater rewards than this.

Readers may have noticed the rate of posting on this blog is pretty slow; for example, this was supposed to have gone up yesterday and my agents had already written it for me.  Please rest assured steps are being taken to rectify this situation.

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