Posted on | March 31, 2011 | 8 Comments
Remember the classic line from Hannibal Lecter?
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
That was the first time I ever remember hearing about fava beans. I had no idea what they were, I kind of had the idea they kind of like chick peas, maybe.
In Peru (and other parts of South America) fava beans are called “habas” – I’m not sure exactly why the “F” got dropped, just one of those hinky things that happens with language, I guess! (b and v are pronounced the same, so no big deal there)
I rarely see them served cooked with a meal, but anywhere you go, you’ll see vendors on the streets selling little packets of fried habas – called “habitas”. I’m not particularly crazy about them – they have a really nice crisp texture, but for me, an unpleasant aftertaste. The hubs and the kids LOVE them, though, and will go through pack after pack if they can.
If you like habitas, you can cook them at home! It’s a job that takes a little patience and practice, and there are actually two ways to do it, depending on your preference. The deal is that, like peas or lima beans, they come in a pod. So first, you have to shell them. But there’s an extra step with favas – the bean itself has a tough skin that must be removed. You have the choice of removing the skin before or after you fry them.
I prefer taking the skin off first. The skin is what has the most of the bitter aftertaste, and I think that taking it off first keeps the bean from absorbing as much. Maybe it’s all in my head – who knows? But it’s what I think. Removing the skin first involves and extra step of dropping the shelled beans into boiling water for about 4-5 minutes, just enough to blanch them and loosen up the skin. Let them cool, then use a fingernail or knife to break the skin and the bean should squeeze out.
Fry the beans in a large frying pan in hot soy bean oil or peanut oil. When they’re brown and crispy on both sides (3-4 minutes per side), turn them out on paper towels to drain and sprinkle them with salt. Go crazy if you want, add a little cayenne or garlic salt!
If you fry them with the skin on, let them cool first and then again the skin should just slip off. Salt and season AFTER you remove the skin! I don’t think they’re as crispy this way, either – for me, the extra step is worth the trouble.
For your trouble, you’ll get a crispy little treat that’s packed with a lot more vitamins than a potato chip.
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