Monday, May 27, 2013

Lima beans -- the secret revealed

One of our favorite restaurants is Mayan Cafe in Louisville, and my favorite item on the menu is Tok-Sel Lima Beans.  I don't know what Tok-Sel means in Mayan but the beans are great.  And apparently everybody else in town shares my opinion, because when the public library put on its annual How-To festival and invited Bruce Ucan, the Mayan's chef, to give a demo, they refused to let him fix what he suggested -- it was lima beans, non-negotiable.

Good news for home cooks: you can start with frozen limas if you don't have fresh (the chef does it all the time).  Defrost them but don't precook.

Put them in a hot frying pan with your favorite oil and sear them, stirring all the time, for several minutes till the beans are brown and roasted.  Add a lot of chopped parsley and chopped green onions and saute for another minute or so.

Then comes the secret ingredient: pumpkin seeds.  You roast the seeds in a 350 degree oven, then grind them in the Cuisinart.  When the beans in the frying pan are almost ready to serve, toss in the pumpkin seeds.  A spritz of lemon juice, and you're done.

Make a lot (the chef suggests a half pound for four servings).  I'd be happy to just have a triple serving and call it dinner.

The chef says the actual Mayans don't use lima beans; they prefer a big white bean such as Great Northern.  The traditional preparation is to sear the beans with hot rocks, which are then piled on top of the beans to keep them hot while awaiting customers for street food.  So if you like another kind of bean, you have his blessing to substitute it.


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  2. I love the lima beans at Mayan Café so much. On another note, squirrels loooove rotted avocados.....not that you necessarily want to attract more squirrels to your yard.