Guatemalan black beans
November 27, 2006 1:54 PM   Subscribe

How do I make Guatemalan style black beans? Just plain old black beans.

I don't know how different Guatemalan style beans are than say, Cuban, or Mexican, but I want to make black beans in the style that I had while I was at a homestay in Guatemala. I've got the dried beans, but when searching on the internet, all I can find are fancy recipes for various chilis, beans soups, salads, or whatever.

So here's what I want to make: Black beans, that you eat as a side dish, kinda soupy. Simple stuff, I may try fancy variations later.
posted by bluejayk to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My recipe, not necessarily Guatemalan, but simple, for certain.

Soak a pound of dried beans in water overnight. The next day pick out any that are floating. Chop up an onion or two and a green pepper. Saute the onion in pepper in olive oil in a sauce pan. Once they are tender, dump in the now drained beans. Add enough water to cover everything by an inch or two, depending on how wide your pot is. Get it all boiling for fifteen minutes, then turn down to low (a simmer) and put a lid on a let it go for an hour or two. Stir every 20 minutes or so. They'll be runny then. I like them a bit thicker, so I take out about a cup, mash them up with a fork and then dump the mash back in.
posted by sulaine at 2:24 PM on November 27, 2006

You say "soupy" so I guess you want the kind with the whole beans, rather than the mashed up version, so:

First, immerse the beans in water a full day before you are actually gonna cook them and leave them there.

When you put them in the pot where you are going to cook them cover them with water, add one of those chicken bouillon cubes, a full onion, cut in slices, and some garlic. Another optional ingredient for that Guatemalan touch is a bit of coriander, but not everyone does this.

Leave it cooking at high temperature, then come back and check them every twenty minutes or so. They are kinda tricky as the cooking time varies depending on what you cook them in, but unless you use a pressure cooker, it's bound to take about four or five hours.

So, key here is to keep coming back to check how they are doing and add water and a bit of salt every time. After the third hour or so take out one of the beans and bite it to see if it's soft enough.

any questions, fire ahead.
posted by micayetoca at 2:30 PM on November 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I want integrales, whole beans.

This might be a stupid question. I have cumin, but no coriander. I live in China, I'm doubting I can get coriander. Should I substitute cumin (which is listed as an ingrediant in other black bean recipes I've seen, but none conspicuously labeled 'Guatemalan'), or just go without?

Thanks for the help!
posted by bluejayk at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2006

Coriander is cilantro seed--are you sure it's unavailable there? Cilantro is a common ingredient in many Chinese dishes in the US, at least; heck, it's even called "Chinese coriander," sometimes.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:49 PM on November 27, 2006

Here's my version. Wash the black beans thoroughly. Cover them with water or vegetable stock. Throw in a head (not a clove) of garlic and a couple of bay leaves. Throw in a couple of vegetable stock cubes if you haven't started with stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the beans are soft. They taste best the next day when the garlic has thoroughly infused the mix. Add salt as wanted.
posted by firstdrop at 2:50 PM on November 27, 2006

Duh, I mean "Chinese parsley."
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:50 PM on November 27, 2006

Don't put the salt in until near the end - it screws up the bean cooking / softening process! (IIRC)
posted by Aquaman at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2006

Response by poster: I admit, I had no idea what coriander is, and I simply assumed I could not get it here. Maybe they'll keep a supply between the live frogs and the dried shrimp.
posted by bluejayk at 3:08 PM on November 27, 2006

Here's what I do for frijoles deliciosos:

1. Instead of soaking overnight (which is the preferred technique but requires a type of forethought that I lack), rinse a few cups of dry beans to remove dirt, rocks, etc., then cover with a few inches of water in a pot with a lid. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then turn off the flame and let the pot sit for an hour. More time is fine, less is not so great.

2. Drain the beans and rinse again to reduce the flatulence factor. At this point they are ready for cooking, so...

3. Cover the beans with a few inches of fresh water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. If you like, this is when you can add chopped onions (sauteed or raw) and complementary spices like garlic, cumin and chili powder. Wait until the beans are done to add salt because that will make them tough and you risk oversalting.

4. Simmer for 60-90 minutes until the bean skins split wide open when you blow on a spoonful taken from the pot. Don't forget to stir a few times as they cook to make sure they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pot; if they are, add more water.

You can experiment with cooking times and the amount of water you use to make your beans mushier or soupier. And sulain's mashing tip is the way to make your "bean broth" thicker.
posted by naomi at 4:03 PM on November 27, 2006

hey bluejayk, actually cumin makes for another great frijol-related dish: Cuban congrĂ­. If you prepare some rice (just rice with some salt or one of those damn chicken cubes) and once it's ready you:

a) put some oil in a pan and start frying some more garlic in there.

b) once the garlic looks like it's on its way, you toss the rice, mix it with the frijoles and then you add the cumin. You gotta let it heat a little while, to get the most out of the cumin.

c) Optional: at this stage you can throw some sausage, fish or any other kinda meat you'd like with it.

That thing is called CongrĂ­, it's Cuban and I love it.

As for the coriander, don't worry too much, some people use it, some people don't, its not essential and although some people use it in Guate, I've seen it more in the more Caribbean countries, like Panama, or Venezuela.
posted by micayetoca at 4:43 PM on November 27, 2006

In a medium pot, cover the beans with water (I never soak and don't find much of a difference). I add 1-2 smallish ham hocks for flavor. Cook the beans over medium low heat. You don't want the beans to boil, just let them simmer. I cook the beans until they start to split open and when tasted, are just beginning to soften. Remove the ham hocks. Add to the pot some tomatoes, garlic, onions, and cilantro. You can saute this before hand but I've found that adding it raw is just fine. Add a little salt to taste and cumin. The cumin is not essential but adds a little something to the beans. Let the beans cook a while longer, until the broth is thick.
posted by mamaquita at 4:56 PM on November 27, 2006

I'm hungry after reading this thread.
posted by wsg at 6:17 PM on November 27, 2006

I usually use canned beans, but the super-simple version I make has had good reviews from friends who've lived in Central America.

1. chop an onion loosely and about 4 cloves of garlic medium
2. fry them in olive oil in a skillet (on med-hi heat) until the onions are translucent
3. add beans (from can, drained and rinsed for preference) and cook for at least 15 minutes at med, then med-lo heat
4. sometime in there, add a bit of butter and black pepper
5. optional: add cumin (early on, with oil), a bit of cayenne powder, chopped green peppers, chopped tomatoes

6. serve over rice, with mango slices or hot fruit salsa
+ yogurt
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:01 PM on November 27, 2006

(someone above mentioned, and it's true, that more time on low heat is good. check on it and add more oil or butter as needed. My version is not very soupy/gravy-ful.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:03 PM on November 27, 2006

Cilantro is everywhere here, bluejayk, at least in BJ it is. Everywhere. It is in almost every dish. The green, leafy stuff that looks a little parsley like, that's it. You want the green, fresh stuff, not the powdered seed.

Here's my (unhealthy, special occasion) version:

Soak black beans in very salty water over night.
Melt golfball sized chunk of lard or saltpork in skillet.
Fry finely chopped onion in grease.
Add drained beans. and one cup or so of water, pinch of salt.
Let water come to a poil.
Add good dash of cumin, dash cayenne, couple of spoons of green chili salsa, about a quarter cup of finely chopped cilantro (aka coriander depending on who you ask) and one finely chopped small tomato
Cook medium heat until soupy stirring frequently, don't let it stick.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:02 PM on November 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great recipes, all. I'm gonna try the simplest ones first.

Pollomacho - there is so much green leafy stuff here that looks like parsley but isn't, I can't keep track. I know more words for lettucey/cabbagey/parsleyish stuff in Mandarin now than I do English. But I think I know what you're talking about.
posted by bluejayk at 11:51 PM on November 27, 2006

My wife and coworkers say its called xiangcai or yansui in Mandarin.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:32 AM on November 28, 2006

If you go get cilantro, be aware that:
1. Coriander is different from cilantro even though they come from the same plant.

2. Because of a real physical difference between people, to some people cilantro tastes great and to some people it tastes like horrible, like eating soap. See I hate Cilantro .com. Taste some first, before adding it to your recipe. If it tastes like greens, or a little spicy, good. If it tastes nasty, you may be one of the cilantro-cursed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:36 PM on November 28, 2006

Should have looked there first, but wikipedia has a very nice article on the differences.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:39 PM on November 28, 2006

« Older Keypress plays assigned sound effect   |   What was Veritas' maintenance policy as of 1997?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.