Saigon Hoppin' John & Yardlong Beans with Shallots

A Southeast Asian take on a Southern classic inspired by a trip to the farmers market. Served with yardlong beans with sweet caramelized shallots. 

In this house, the change in temperature means one thing – football season.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Both Scott and I graduated from Clemson, and since then we’ve attended as many games as we can.   Over the 7 years since we started dating, our group of friends has merged together, so tailgates have become a great excuse to see all of our favorites.  And I can’t lie, being a Clemson fan is even more exciting when we’re ranked number three in the nation!

If there’s one thing I hate about football season, and there is only one thing, it’s missing out on my other favorite Saturday tradition – the downtown Columbia local farmer’s market.

Scott and I started going to the all-local farmer’s market back when it was about 10 stands in a parking lot next to 701 Whaley, tucked away in a mostly residential area. Over the past few years, Columbia’s food scene has grown tremendously, and much of the credit goes to the brains behind our farmer’s market. In the past year, it’s expanded to cover an entire block of the prettiest street in downtown Columbia, just a stone’s throw from the Capitol building. Each Saturday, it’s packed with locals shopping for artisanal foods, organic meats and produce and unique crafts. Every time I go there’s a new vendor.  Recent additions include a hilariously named juice stand, Gin & Juice, Turkish food (get the baba ganoush!), and artisanal soda.

The best farmer’s market days are when I find a new variety of fruit or vegetable. Some girls get excited about new clothes. This girl gets excited about new beans. Dietitians are a weird breed.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across these beautiful pink-eyed peas.  Seriously, how gorgeous are they? Although I do find the name a bit disconcerting - dinner should not bring up the image of pussy, draining  eyes. Despite the negative association, I couldn’t resist. A few stands down at City Roots, where we normally order our CSA, I found purple yardlong beans and managed to snatch the last bunch of purples ones.

I knew I wanted to incorporate both of these beans in a meal together, but I wasn’t quite sure how.  While googling recipes for yardlong beans, I learned they are a common Southeast Asian vegetable. Hrumph  How to combine a Southeast Asian vegetable with one that couldn’t be more archetypically Southern. I was stumped until I remembered a recipe by the Lee Bros., for a Vietnamese-inspired hoppin’ John. I decided to do a simple preparation for the yardlong beans with shallots, a common Vietnamese flavoring ingredient, and allow the vegetable to shine.

The meal was simple, but felt special because of the unusual ingredients.  The pink-eyed peas had the perfect amount of starch, without being mushy.  According to Southern Living, they have a less earthy taste than black-eyed peas, but since I’ve never had fresh black-eyed peas, it was hard to compare.  I found the yardlong beans to be very similar in flavor to regular green beans, just a slightly softer texture.  They made for gorgeous plating!  Certainly, you could substitute fresh, dried or canned black-eyed peas and regular green beans, and I guarantee it will taste just as delicious, but isn’t it more fun to search out something unique?

Saigon Hoppin' John

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Lee Bros. Southern Cook book.


  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh black-eyed or pink-eyed peas, shelled
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated or minced ginger
  • 1 4-inch stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 4 sections
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the brown rice, cover, and simmer about 25 minutes.
  2. Uncover and add the peas, ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, chili flakes, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until both rice and peas are tender and it has a porridge-like consistency, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cilantro and season with black pepper to taste.

Yardlong Beans with Shallots

Serves 4

Adapted from Lee Bros Southern Cookbook


  • 1 lb yardlong beans or green beans
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook about 2 minutes if using yardlong beans or 4 minutes if using green beans (yardlongs can get mushy easily). Drain and rinse under cold water or place in an ice bath.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is golden, about 2-4 minutes. Add the beans, increase heat to high and toss to combine. Cook the green beans about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.