Breakfast of champions

'hashbrown' lima beans

Ok, breakfast of this champion at least. What am I doing calling myself a champion, you asked? Hey, didn’t you hear, self-affirmation is good for you. Ha.

I should tell you first I’m not much of a savory-beans eater – when I grew up in Asia most beans were in desserts. I haven’t really been able to get over that childhood silliness. Not helping the matter is how most beans are hardly worth eating anyway – flavorless, old supermarket beans with a texture of decomposing bread, or Mexican refried beans as thick as cement paste.

Anyway, my friend Steve of Rancho Gordo gave me a bag of giant lima beans the other day. Before you jump on my case for taking and plugging freebies I should tell you I work for them beans! When Steve is alone at the Saturday farmers market – rare now that he’s got his gal pal Joan helping out – I would keep his stall for him while he takes a pee break! Plenty of people have seen me selling beans. There may have even been photographic evidence.

These lima beans are giant, and, despite what I’ve heard about lima beans, Steve assured me they are muy tasty. So I took them, and yesterday morning turned them into this crazy good breakfast.

It’s so easy to make it’s hardly worth writing a recipe. But here it is anyway if you insist on one.

Lima beans and bacon for champions
serve 2

1/2 cup Lima beans
6 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs (optional)

Soak the beans at least six hours to overnight. Drain and add the beans to a pot, fill with water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down a bit and cook for 45 minutes or until done. Drain. You can cook the beans in advance and keep in the fridge to be used the next morning. That’s what I did.

Cut the bacon into small pieces, about 1cm wide. Add them to a frying pan and spread them all around. Turn the heat on to medium-high, let the bacon pieces cook down to render all the fat. When the fat is rendered and the bacon crispy, remove the bacon pieces and most of the fat from the pan. Reserve both the bacon and the fat.

Add the chopped onions to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are
Remove the onions.

The reserved fat goes back into the pan, add the cooked beans and a good pinch of salt. Fry the beans until blistery and brown on
both sides in the bacon fat, add a knob or two of butter if it looks a
bit dry. Bacon bits and onions go back into the pan, shake it a few
times to mix well.

Voila, you are done. This amount should serve two hungry breakfasters in your house. Precisely why you both are so ravenous in the morning I shall leave to your imagination.

If you want to really top it off properly, fry two eggs overeasy – so that the whites are set and the yolk are still runny – and top the pile of beans and bacon with these eggs. Cut the eggs right in through the middle of the yolk so the gooey yolk ooze over the beans. Yum.

You can also fry the eggs like they do in Thailand – or in Spain – that’s to say in a pan with lots of very hot oil. Crack the eggs in, one at a time. The eggs should cook very quicking, the edges of the whites blistering and brown and the yolks barely cooked at all. Fish them out from the oil and put them over the pile o’ beans. Even more yum.

Oh, yes, and they are even better with a few slogs of the Gay Caballero sauce on top of everything.

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25 Responses to “Breakfast of champions

  • Nancy said:
    August 10th, 2007 at 12:19pm

    I have finally found someone else that doesn’t like beans. YES! Although that picture makes me want to make an exception…

  • Nina said:
    August 10th, 2007 at 12:48pm

    I have an order which includes those limas, and a botle of Gay Caballero, on its way as we speak! Can’t wait. I’ll definitely do this for breakfast. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Diane said:
    August 10th, 2007 at 6:13pm

    I have never, ever, ever liked re-fried beans. Cement is right. But I love any kind of dal. My pantry is like a bean paradise. I eat mainly Thai and Indian, so of course I eat a lot of rice a lot of beans (dal). I like the SE Asian bean deserts too.
    This looks good. I will have to try it.

  • barbara said:
    August 10th, 2007 at 7:05pm

    I love these giant lima beans. The only ones I have bought in NZ have been imported from Italy and very expensive. Nice idea for breakfast Pim.

  • B said:
    August 11th, 2007 at 4:58am

    I agree that canned beans are flavourless, but I must defend the overall tastiness of beans in general. Maybe its because I used to be vegetarian, but beans are just plain good.
    When I was veggie I used to soak and then bake dried beans in the oven, slowly with water until they were tender (about 3 or 4 hours). If the water is nicely salted the beans are fantastic!

  • Lori Lynn at Taste With The Eyes said:
    August 11th, 2007 at 8:56am

    That looks delicious! I prefer a savory breakfast to a sweet one, so I’ll have to try it. Thanks.
    I love to put giant lima beans in my homemade Jewish Style chicken soup, even those who think they hate lima beans, are pleasantly surprised.

  • radish said:
    August 11th, 2007 at 10:00am

    I love lima beans – and it also took me awhile. We just had our fair share in SC and I bought a bag this last grocery shopping trip and will now make something yummy with them.

  • Annemarie said:
    August 11th, 2007 at 3:34pm

    My husband *loves* lima beans but they’re one of about 3 foods I won’t eat (along with fruit cake and citrus rind). Coated in bacon, though, these might just be palatable to me, though maybe not for breakfast…

  • Mike Sowden said:
    August 12th, 2007 at 4:31am

    Beans for breakfast. Says a lot about Northern England that I raised one eyebrow in mild horror when I read the first few paragraphs.
    But no, you win, utterly and entirely. Especially with the eggs suggestion – the yolk oozing down like a really good Eggs Benedict.
    I’m not convinced the rest of the morning would be a whirlwind of productivity, though. That’s a filling breakfast!

  • sam said:
    August 12th, 2007 at 11:14pm

    I don’t / didnt like beans either but Steve converted me to with a FREE bag too. His beans are definitely special ones.
    Maybe I’ll plant one, grow a magic beanstalk and find a way out…

  • cindy said:
    August 13th, 2007 at 6:07am

    Yum..bacon fat beans will convert any bean haters.

  • veron said:
    August 13th, 2007 at 9:44am

    Breakfast of champions indeed! All that bacon fat sure looks good! I’ve never thought of having beans for breakfast but this is one way to convince me to give it a try!

  • Amy said:
    August 13th, 2007 at 1:10pm

    I love lima beans so this is making my mouth water!

  • alexthepink said:
    August 13th, 2007 at 7:45pm

    That made me smile about not liking savoury beans…I’m a British girl living in Hong Kong at the moment and I just can’t make myself eat beans in desserts!
    Great idea for breakfast too…

  • Steve Sando said:
    August 14th, 2007 at 12:07pm

    I’m glad you liked them. For those who don’t care much for fresh lima beans (and I understand!), the dried are very different and these huge ones are like nothing else. I think because the beans are so big, the skin is compromised and there isn’t that starchy texture you think of with limas.
    Please don’t judge beans (or Mexican food) by the combination plate slop that is served in most Mexican restaurants and I won’t judge European food by the breakfast croissant at Jack in the Box. Deal?

  • Happy Cook said:
    August 14th, 2007 at 1:35pm

    Hi you have a excelent blog
    I just started one. Would you check it out

  • Kevin Kossowan said:
    August 15th, 2007 at 6:04am

    I gave fried eggs, beans, and toast a go, and it definitely works. I didn’t like beans when I was a kid, but my french grandfather once told a friend of mine that if he didn’t eat some beans [it was the first course with dinner, more often than not], that he’d get a bean ennema in his sleep. So I learned to like beans out of fear.

  • Kung Foodie Kat said:
    August 15th, 2007 at 10:39pm

    oh how divine….you’re awesome (and not just because of the beans)

  • Stephen said:
    August 16th, 2007 at 4:49pm

    I love beans. I could eat them for every meal. Your lima beans look good!

  • Deborah Dowd said:
    August 16th, 2007 at 6:03pm

    This looks like a good use of huge limas which I am not usually fond of. I never thought of turning them into breakfast!

  • Mercedes said:
    August 16th, 2007 at 6:46pm

    My mom used to wrinkle her nose when I would tell her about one of my traditional breakfasts when living in the Middle East: a bowl of ful, beans doused in lots of olive oil an lemon juice. It’s delicious.
    I love those giant limas, I had them in Greece and have loved them ever since.

  • almost vegetarian said:
    August 17th, 2007 at 9:53am

    That is so funny. Some time ago I was taken to a Japanese restaurant and given a bean-based dessert. The taste was incredible, but the texture was just all wrong. You see, for me, beans are a savory dish.
    How our culture has shaped us.

  • Kevin at TasteTV said:
    August 17th, 2007 at 11:47pm

    Do they have to be giant lima beans for this recipe that made them look this delicious…not that they don’t look good raw

  • ray in Mexican Colony of LA said:
    August 18th, 2007 at 2:01pm

    Not exactly beans but a new thai restaurant in LA for you all,………Enjoy !!!
    The kua kling Phat Tha Lung at Jitlada may be the spiciest food you can eat in Los Angeles at the moment, a sweet, thick brown curry tossed in a wok with shredded beef, a turmeric-rich endorphin bomb that is traditionally one of the hottest mouthfuls in southern Thailand, which is to say the world. It’s a searing, tongue-scouring, chile-intensive dish that pins your nervous system into the red. Beer won’t counteract the burn. Thai iced tea won’t do a thing. Kua kling laughs at rice. When you order kua kling at Jitlada you are brought a plate of iced raw vegetables to cool down the burn, and the waitress may hover over you for a moment to make sure you haven’t incurred serious soft-tissue damage.
    “Is this too hot?” a waitress asked one afternoon when I was at the restaurant with my friend Carl, a composer who used to keep a Thai-language card in his wallet instructing waiters to feed him food spiced for Bangkok natives instead of for the inadequate palates of the farang.
    “To tell the truth,” Carl said, “it isn’t quite hot enough. Is this the way it’s supposed to taste?”
    She took the plate away and a minute later reappeared with the dish adjusted to southern Thai standards. A few bites later, sweat began to leak out of Carl’s forehead and his gut trembled like a waterbed, but the grin splitting his scarlet, snot-running mug was unmistakable. I reached over and stabbed a forkful for myself. The heat was almost unbearable, and I was surprised to briefly lose muscular control of my knees, but the curry was undeniably better, more balanced in flavor, than it had been in its slightly deracinated version. And then the endorphins kicked in — kua kling, definitely the kua kling.
    Jitlada has always been one of the most respected Thai restaurants in Los Angeles, the fanciest place in Thaitown since at least the late 1970s, the local center of the gentle curries and suave vegetable constructions sometimes associated with old-fashioned Thai court cooking. In the 1980s, most local Thais recommended Jitlada when you asked them to name the best restaurant in Hollywood, especially for the grilled giant prawns, the soups and the salads garnished with ornate carved carrots. But by the 1990s, when restaurants serving regional Thai dishes came into play — places specializing in the cosmopolitan street food of Bangkok, the rich cooking of Chiang Mai, intricately spiced Thai-Chinese food and the lean, spare vegetable-intensive cuisine of Isaan — Jitlada seemed staid, a little dull, no matter how splendid the Thai cutlery may have been. When I stopped by the restaurant a couple of years ago, I realized that it was probably the first time I had visited the place in a decade. And when the restaurant was sold last year to southern-Thai chef Suthiporn Sungkamee — “Tui” — and his sister, who answers to the name Jazz, the transition was unremarked, and the menu looked outwardly identical.
    But a few months ago, a Chicago blogger who calls himself Erik M. came across Jitlada’s takeout menus stacked in the lobby of a Hollywood hotel and realized that the dense block of Thai text on the back page of the otherwise bilingual document was a list of southern-style dishes that he had mostly never seen before. He visited the restaurant several times in the last days of his trip, methodically making his way through the exotic curries and seafood dishes, getting to know the new owners and developing a working English version of the menu. When he got home, he polished the translation and posted it to a Chicago-area food discussion board, calling Jitlada the most exciting thing going on in the Thai restaurant scene in the U.S. Other bloggers picked up word of Jitlada’s mysterious southern menu. The half-empty restaurant began to fill with Thais, who read about the restaurant’s rejuvenation in local Thai-language newspapers, and with big parties of Internet hounds clutching crib sheets to the hidden dishes. In certain circles, Jitlada was the most famous restaurant nobody had ever heard of, and Tui’s homegrown turmeric, steamed green mussels in spicy lemongrass broth and fried fish “jerky” became open secrets.
    Family ties — chef Tui Sungkamee, seated, surrounded, from left, by Sariya and Jazz Singsanong and Aun and Sugar Sungkamee. Jitlada’s auxiliary menu is almost a thesaurus of southern Thai specialties that you probably haven’t encountered outside a guidebook — things like delicious, foul-smelling yellow curries of fermented bamboo shoots; a Songkhia-style rice salad, khao yam, tossed with toasted coconut, dried shrimp, shredded fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and a sweet sauce called naam khoei; and whole sea bass shellacked with fresh turmeric, deep fried and showered with crunchy bits of crisp, fried garlic, or plainer fried sea bass glazed with a sweet chile purée.
    As you might expect, the southern Thai menu revolves around curries, not just the kua kling but a whirlwind of soupy, pungent and blazing-hot symphonies of thick textures and strange, mephitic fragrances that could have originated almost nowhere else on Earth — wild tea leaves cooked down like creamed spinach with bits of gluey-skinned catfish; beef simmered with pickled buds of cassia (Asian cinnamon) that have the jolt of tropical Red Hots; shrimp cooked with the sour shoots of the tamarind plant; fried soft-shell crab tossed in a spicy, brown gravy with slices of fresh turmeric and heaps of sataw, the fabled stinky bean, which smells like a bad day at the morgue, but tastes like what God probably had in mind when she came up with lima beans.
    Is everything great at Jitlada? Of course not, not even on the southern menu. The giant prawns baked in a clay pot tend to be mushy, and the fried pork ribs with garlic are on the leathery side. Non-Thais are apt to be puzzled by the funkiness and the gumbolike consistency of the dried-mudfish curry with kangkong.
    But suave housemade fish balls, formed around salted duck-egg yolks, bob in a fresh green curry that may be the gentlest dish on the southern menu. Jazz claims that every few weeks somebody from a well-known Bay Area restaurant picks up a few dozen orders of the kaeng phûung plaa kûng sàp, a pungent, thin curry of various fish organs, minced shrimp and vegetables. The mango salad, a severely spicy take on a traditional papaya salad flavored with coconut water, is wonderful. There is even special iced coffee whipped to a froth by Jazz and lightened with a secret Thai ingredient that I suspect might be something like Coffee-mate, and the house version of the classic Thai dessert of ripe mango and coconut-scented sticky rice is superb. Jitlada, clearly, is the most exciting new Thai restaurant of the year.
    Jitlada Thai Restaurant, 5233½ Sunset Blvd., Hlywd., (323) 667-9809. Open daily, 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m. AE, MC, V. Beer and wine. Difficult lot parking. Takeout. Dinner for two, food only, $22–$36. Recommended dishes: green curry with fish balls; Phat Lung–style beef curry; steamed mussels; kaeng phûung plaa kûng sàp; mango salad; Songkhia-style rice salad.

  • claudia said:
    August 23rd, 2007 at 10:44am

    i get it. and i like it. the beans are the potatoes. except they’re beans. which is better! i’m so going for the eggs. i cook them as you described when i place them over my salads. just with some super hot olive oil – get em crispy on the edges and still runny in the yolk. GREAT.

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