Black Bean is a small, shiny dark colored variety of bean that is very popular in Latin American cuisine. It is also called turtle bean due to their shell like exterior. It has a dense and velvety texture and a rich flavor that is often compared to mushrooms. Popular black bean recipes include the Mexican- American Burrito, Feijoada of Brazil and Gallo Pinto of Costa Rica. Black bean comes in various varieties like Black Magic, Blackhawk, Domino, etc.
History of Black Bean
An ancestor of the various varieties of beans including black bean is known to have originated in Peru. In the 15th Century, beans were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers who brought it from their voyages to the ‘New World’. It also spread to Asia and Africa by the same Spanish and Portuguese traders. Now beans have become a popular ingredient for cuisines all across the world, particularly due to their high protein content. Black bean is a primary ingredient in cuisines of Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Cuba, etc. The largest producers of dried beans are India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and the United States.
Culinary Uses of Black Bean
- Black bean is used as an ingredient in various rice and meat dishes, and also as filling for different types of breads.
- It is used extensively in black bean recipes for soups and stews
- The water obtained from boiling beans, which is also black in color, is consumed along with seasonings or used to prepare broth, or even used for coloring other foods.
Popular Black Bean Recipes
- Burrito is a Mexican dish made of wheat flour tortilla that contains a filling of meat or Mexican rice and black bean. The United States variant of the dish consists of rice, black bean, lettuce, salsa, meat, cheese, sour, cream, etc. in the filling.
- Feijoada isa stew made of beef, pork and black beans. It is a Portuguese dish, and is also popular in Brazil. It is the national dish of Brazil. This type of black bean recipes may have several local variations.
- Gallo pintois a dish from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It is a part of any and every meal here, and considered a national dish. The basic version is prepared with pre-cooked rice and black beans, along with onions and peppers fried together.
- Pabellón criollo is a dish from Venezuela, and is made of rice, stewed black bean and shredded beef. It is considered a Venezuelan national dish.
Preferable Cooking Methods for Black Bean Recipes
Presoaking is a method used in black bean recipes to shorten cooking time and make black bean easier to digest. By soaking the black bean in water, the oligosaccharides and sugars contained in the bean which are known to contribute to its flatulence causing property, are known to be reduced. Hence pre-soaked black bean recipes are better for digestion.
There are two methods of pre-soaking. One is to boil the beans in water for 2 minutes and then soak them for two hours. The other is to soak them for 8 hours or overnight.
The beans can then be cooked on a stovetop or pressure cooker. They are drained and washed well before cooking. Foam developed during the simmering process is removed. Salty or acidic seasonings are usually not added till the beans are cooked, as they make the beans tough and difficult to cook.
Nutritive Value of Black Bean
Black bean is an excellent source of natural antioxidants. It is naturally rich in protein. It is considered a good source of fiber which helps in cholesterol reduction, and in prevention of rising of blood sugar levels. Black bean recipes using whole grains like brown rice give a formula for fat-free protein which is excellent for health.
Black Bean Buying/Storing Tips
Dried black bean is easily available in stores in containers or bulk bins. To ensure the quality of beans purchased, one should check the packaging and buy it from stores in good running condition. The beans should not show signs of exposure to moisture or insects. They should not be in cracked condition. Even while storing them, They should be kept safely sealed away from moisture and insect exposure.
Here are some of the related ingredients-
- Red or Kidney Beans: They have a dark red skin and are kidney shaped.
- White beans: They are small and white in color, and also called pea bean or haricot. They are popular in US and Britain.
- Pink Beans: They are pale pink colored, oval shaped beans, small in size.
- Cranberry and Borlotti beans: They are tanned or hazelnut colored beans with red or black streaks.