Green beans from France are slender, tender, costly

WHAT'S COOKING?

January 05, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Q: When I go to France, I find tiny slender green beans. This seems to be a different kind of green bean than the ones I find in my neighborhood grocery store. Can the French kind be found here?

A: Those tiny green beans you find in France are most likely a bean that is referred to in the U.S. as "haricot vert" (which in French means "green bean"). These delicate, slender beans can be found seasonally in stores that carry specialty produce, but they're usually more expensive than the common green bean because they are imported.

Q: Is it necessary to devein shrimp?

A: This tedious task is only necessary when the shellfish is large. In bigger shrimp it is advisable to remove the gray black vein from the back of the shrimp because it contains grit. Deveining smaller shrimp is done only for cosmetic purposes.

Q: I've heard that unopened mussels or clams must be discarded after steaming? Is it true the ones that don't open are bad?

A: Yes. Mussels, clams and oysters that do not open after an ample amount of steaming are considered to be bad and should never be eaten. When the shellfish is fresh, the muscle attached to the shell will hold it closed. During the cooking process, this muscle relaxes, allowing the bivalve to pop open.

When the muscle does not relax after cooking, and the shell remains closed, it is assumed the muscle is defective and therefore the shellfish is not safe to eat. Before bivalves are cooked, the two shells should be rightly closed (and not cracked open) to ensure freshness.

We'd like to hear from you. Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or leave us your questions by phone by calling Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County). Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6180 after you hear the greeting.

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