I love fresh green beans. I love the way they squeak between my teeth; I love the flavor; I love the color; I love how they can be used as big green fangs to make a 6-year-old crack up.
And now I love them even more because I melded them with my favorite summer flavors, those found in the Vietnamese lime sauce Nuoc Cham. Today I blanched the rest of my Tantre green beans, chopped up a half a cake of firm tofu and tossed it all with the dressing. It was fast, easy, tasty and perfect for a hot, humid day.
Green Bean and Tofu Salad with Nuoc Cham
1.5 quarts green beans
.5 cake of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
juice of 1 lime
2 t brown sugar
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
1 T soy sauce
1.5 T fish sauce (I like the 3 crabs brand)
.5 of a long serrano chili, chopped fine (or more if you want it hotter)
1/4 C unsalted peanuts, chopped coarsely
at least 2 T each of chopped basil (Thai basil if you have it), spearmint and cilantro
Chuck the beans in a big pot of boiling water and blanch until just tender. Dump in a colander and run cool water over them. Cut into 2 inch lengths.
In your serving bowl combine the lime juice, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili. Give a stir to dissolve the sugar. It may not look like enough dressing but it is. Then toss in the green beans, tofu, chopped peanuts and chopped herbs. Don't serve immediately--you want the flavors to get absorbed a little into the tofu and beans. Instead, let it sit for about half an hour, tossing every 10 minutes to make sure that the flavors are distributed.