If you have never had the pleasure of trying fresh fava beans, an easy way to incorporate them into your dinner is to make a fresh summer succotash. Top the succotash with a piece of crispy seared fish, and you have a very satisfying meal. Succotash is an American dish traditionally made with corn and lima beans. It was popular during the great depression because of its relatively inexpensive ingredients. Through the years it has been modified in all sorts of ways, taking on the preferences and cultures of the people making it.
Fava beans were introduced to me early on, but in the dried form. Growing up, my dad, from Egypt, would often make a dish called Ful Medames. This is a traditional Egyptian breakfast and Egypt's version of street food, sold everywhere and cheaply on the streets of Cairo. It is tasty, filling, full of protein and most importantly, affordable. It consists of a bowl of slow cooked fava beans, seasoned with garlic, onion, cumin and coriander. My dad would fill the crock pot at night with dried fava beans and spices and it would simmer all night long until morning when the beans were fragrant and tender. Served in bowls and drizzled with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, chopped parsley and fresh diced tomatoes, scooped up with toasty pita bread, it was strangely comforting and delicious.
It wasn't until I was older that I saw fresh fava beans still in the pod. After shelling one, I was so surprised by their beautiful pale creamy green color.
Dried fava beans are brown. It's really hard to imagine that they start off being so lovely and green.
A fresh summer succotash is very simple to make, and can be made with whatever you have on hand or growing in your garden.
use what you have on hand....
Shelling a fava bean is very much like shelling a pea pod. You just tug on little string and pull it down and the pod opens up easily. Inside there are four to five plump creamy green colored beans. It really doesn't take long to shell them from their pods.
Their second skin however is a different story. Their are many people who are proponents of removing this outer tough skin. To me, it is not that important. I don't really mind the chewy skin, but it may be off-putting to some. In any case, it is not hard to remove the skin, just time consuming.
The outer skin of the fava bean is best removed through a quick one minute blanch in boiling salted water.
fava bean's second skin
Shock in cold water, and pinch one end of the bean, popping the inner brightly colored bean out.
Now I have to admit, for this recipe, I did not remove the second skin. This is up to you. To soften the skin a bit, I sautéd them for a few minutes with the onion and garlic and added a generous splash of veggie stock and simmered on low for 7 minutes. Then I added the rest of the ingredients.
fresh shucked ears of corn add a nice sweetness
Coat your fish or tofu with a flavorful spice mix
The coating for the fish ( or tofu) is a mix of flour, coriander, salt and pepper and a little corn meal for a good crunchy texture.
Try this with tofu...it's good!
For our dinner, I chose sea bass for myself, and halibut for Brian. Brian is not a fan of super oily fishes like sea bass, and the halibut was a great substitution for him. He did however eventually venture over to my plate and try the sea bass, and to my surprise, liked it too.
In a hot skillet, with a mix of canola oil and olive oil, brown the coated fish on all sides. If they are a particularly thick cut like these, place in a warm oven for a few minutes until your desired doneness.
The onions, garlic, fava beans, peppers and corn were sauteed until tender. Once seasoned, toss in a little chopped cilantro and squeeze of citrus right before serving. Place some succotash on the bottom of your bowls or plates.
Top with your fish or tofu and garnish with lime and a few cilantro sprigs. I actually really like this dish with the coriander tofu. It has good flavor and good texture.
I chose fresh cilantro for this because again, it's what I had on hand. And cilantro, being the green herb that actually grows from coriander seeds, in my mind, pairs so well with coriander seeds. But other herbs would work well too.
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