Kids and vegetables, always a tricky combination. It is not that long ago that Linde looked at me, head cocked, stating with a weary voice: Mama, you know I don’t eat vegetables. She did not say it, but I could read the why do you keep serving them in her eyes.
Yet a few months ago when I asked what she wanted to eat on her birthday, she summed up, without hesitating: green beans, broccoli, pink fish (salmon steak) and rice. In that sequence. I am still recovering from the shock.
Green beans especially have been a firm favourite in our household for a while. We have had fights over who could get the last ones, and those were fierce fights too. The other day we served two large packets of beans, and I had naively assumed that after three of my kids would have feasted on those, enough would be left for Indah’s dinner. No. They ate them all.
I remember how much I hated green beans growing up, especially those served at my grandmother’s house. Memories of green beans boiled to death in the classic Dutch way still make me shudder. We never have those. I have not boiled a vegetable since I-can’t-remember-when. We stir-fry.
Credits for the popularity of green beans can be granted to a dish we call, very prosaically, ‘boontjes met vlees’. This translates into, well, ‘beans and meat.’ The dish is as simple as it is yummy, consisting of stir fried, ehm, beans and beef.
Roel claims to be the inventor of this famous dish, the recipe of which has been further perfected by Indah (and we will tactfully ignore the fact that it is in fact a classic Asian disc). Last Monday when we (we meaning Indah) cooked this dish I brought it out to five children, ready at the table, chanting ‘boontjes met vlees’, while banging their knives and forks on the table to the rhythm. Our little guests (who had had it before and had requested it) complained that when their aunty made it for them, it was just not as good.
And since I know that all you parents out there are now dying to get this famous recipe that will get your kids to gorge on green beans, without further ado I present Indah’s version of:
Boontjes met vlees
(stir fried beef with green beans)
500 g stir-fry beef, in thin strips
2 or 3 (~200g) packets of green beans, cleaned and in 3-5cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
kechap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
for the marinade:
3-4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon corn starch
pepper and salt
I have given indicative quantities for most of the ingredients because we don’t really do exact measuring in our kitchen, and also because it depends on your personal preference. You can’t really go wrong much, and you can always add more soy sauce or oyster sauce later. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, and add it to the beef. Let it sit for a while, at least half an hour.
Heat a wok with a generous glug of oil and fry the garlic and onion for a few minutes. Add the beans, and stir-fry these for a few minutes as well until they are almost done, before you add the beef. Make sure your wok is hot and you stir well. When everything is cooked, add a generous glug of kechap manis to taste. Serve with plain rice, and sambal for those who like some added bite.