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The Unexpected Ingredient That Adds Loads Of Flavor To Green Beans

Anchovies mixed with green beans and chili
Anchovies mixed with green beans and chili - Michaelnero/Shutterstock

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and even protein, green beans are a phenomenal source of nutrition. Whether tossed in butter, sautéed in olive oil, or eaten straight from the can, this veggie is a versatile ingredient that brings color and flavor to any meal. While there are a variety of ways to improve green beans, incorporating anchovies is a flavor upgrade has yet to gain the recognition it deserves.

It may not have been the kind of ingredient you expected, but anchovies are the ultimate addition to green beans. Imagine cooked green beans as a blank canvas and the flavor of anchovies as strokes of color. In culinary terms, the highly addictive salty and rich disposition of the anchovies melds well with the neutral taste of the green beans.

There are many ways to incorporate anchovies into green beans, and each will result in a slightly different flavor and texture. For instance, the fat source you use to cook the beans, whether that's butter or olive oil, can be infused with the anchovies for a big impact on the final dish. Using other cooking methods or pairing the anchovies and beans with even more flavors yield a versatile range of options.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

How To Cook Green Beans And Anchovies

Canned anchovies in oil
Canned anchovies in oil - Krblokhin/Getty Images

There are a variety of different green beans you can pair with anchovies, and also different cooking methods. For a crunchy and salty side dish, fry anchovy fillets in olive oil before adding the green beans to the pan. Frying the anchovies first allows the salty flavor of the fish to infuse the oil, while also softening the fillets themselves. This creates a textural contrast between the soft anchovies and crispy fried beans. In this instance, anchovies canned in olive oil will create a more intense flavor and reduce waste (as you can use the oil inside the can to cook the green beans).

If you prefer tender and soft beans, you may wish to steam or boil them first. If you want their appearance to retain a vibrant green color, place the beans into an ice bath immediately after cooking. While the beans cook, you can delicately fry anchovies in melted butter for a more decadent and slightly creamy accompaniment. If you're a fan of the butter idea, remember to use unsalted batter, as the anchovies will likely contain enough salt for the whole dish.

There are various other ingredients that can complement anchovies and green beans. A squeeze of lemon will add a hint of acidity, minced garlic will impart a delicious aroma, and crispy fried onions will add a satisfying crunch.

A Malaysian Classic

Dried anchovies mixed with beans
Dried anchovies mixed with beans - grass-lifeisgood/Shutterstock

Alongside the classic canned anchovies you'll find at the store, other varieties also pair well with green beans. Of particular note are dried anchovies. These dried fish are crunchy with an intensified flavor due to the drying process. In Malaysia, dried anchovies, also known as ikan bilis, make an appearance in one of the country's most iconic dishes: nasi lemak. Dried anchovies paired with green beans can also be found in Malaysian cuisine.

In Malaysia, you may come across a condiment called sambal belacan ikan bilis. Dried anchovies are ground into a paste with garlic, chili, onion, lime, belacan (a paste made from shrimp or prawn), and sweet soy sauce. This creates a wildly punchy sauce bursting with tangy, bright acidity and rich umami. It's excellent served alongside green beans or other vegetables. Whether you're an anchovy enthusiast who fancies branching out to the dried variety, or you're just looking to explore ways to elevate plain green beans, be sure to give anchovies and beans a try.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.