Another Reason Why I Shouldn't Cook: Failed Ethiopian Loubia
I love Ethiopian food. I am also a smart enough gal to know that I am too crappy a chef to attempt any of the delicious main dishes I enjoy at Ethiopian restaurants. But, after buying a pound of huge, plump string beans from a local farmstand, I somehow got it into my head that I could duplicate loubia, the scrumptious, green bean appetizer at home. You mightn't be surprised to know that I couldn't even come close.
Armed only with my beautiful string beans and the ingredients that are listed in most menu descriptions, I got to work. I cooked the beans in a frying pan on high heat, maintaining a half inch level of water. It took much longer than expected to get them to the almost mushy consistency that is expected of loubia, giving me plenty of time to fiddle with the sauce. I noticed immediately that the sauce wasn't thickening (not sure why I thought it would), so I tried adding cornstarch; it didn't do a darn thing: not even when heated.
This is roughly what I ended up using, adding once the beans were fully cooked for just long enough to heat (and not thicken):
1 lb fresh green beans
8 tbsp evoo
3 tsp cumin
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp lemon
The plated meal looked extremely appetizing, but not at all like the thickly coated restaurant version. If nothing else, the fragrance was pure Ethiopian (thank you, cumin). The beans were un- questionably fresh and absolutely delicious. But, when I generously ventured that it rated 40 on a scale of 100 Ethiopian goodness points, my fellow Ethiopian food lover corrected that it rated a 4! I was aghast, horrified, offended-- but I think she may have been right. Admittedly, had I never eaten Ethiopian loubia before I would have simply considered this a nicely spiced snack. But having had I think a 4 was generous. Any suggestions?