Fried beans & how we ruined dad’s Good Friday meal…
According to my dad, as far as he can remember, fried beans were always part of Good Friday’s menu. My mother didn’t grow up with this particular tradition. Yet that day, she always makes sure to feature beans cooked that way on the menu. She mostly prepares those fried beans to please my dad who asks for them yearly. Be careful not to serve it to him on any other day, for he will remind you that fried beans are a Good Friday treat. We do not typically served them any other time of the year. Or so he has us believing.
Growing up, we knew that those beans were the one menu item he favored the most. My brothers, sister and I had learned to accept that the plate had to stay next to his place setting. We also knew to let him serve himself first, and to leave him some for seconds.
I never quite understood his likeness of those beans. It leaves me baffled. After all, we’re talking about the same guy who will pick every single bean out of his diri kole. I can only think of one explanation. Just like us, my dad grew up eating fried beans every Good Friday at his family table. He thus, developed a taste for them. And he made sure to pass down this family tradition to us, his children.
And today, as far as we can remember, for my siblings and I, fried beans and Good Friday always go together. On that day, we must have fried beans alongside our poisson gros sel, boiled plantains and salade Russe.
What exactly are fried beans?
As the name implies, they are simply beans that we fry in hot oil. The beans of choice are red kidney beans which we boil before dropping them in sizzling hot oil. We then season them with salt and pepper. My aunt tells me that grand-mère served hers with a vinaigrette on the side. But we’ve never had it this way at our house. I do, however, make sure to generously drizzle mine with the poisson gros sel sauce. There’s just something about the mix of that salty sauce and the crispy beans that makes my taste buds happy.
It took me a while to master the preparation method. Though we serve them religiously every year, my mom and I had never quite learned how to make those fried beans. When it came to that side, our home cooks always took charge. Because of that, in 2014, we ruined my dad’s Good Friday.
After many failed attempts that resulted in mushy fried beans, my mom suggested that we skip the precooking and fry the raw beans. This turned out to be a terrible idea. We were left with burnt but uncooked red beans. Needless to say that dad was not a happy camper that day.
Since then, I have learned to prepare those beans. The secret is to cook the beans half way before frying them. I believe I am now ready to some day pass this tradition down to my own children.
This article first appeared on the blog on April 23rd, 2014. The 2019 update includes a recipe and new pictures.
Haitian fried beans
Not to be confused with the Hispanic refried beans, our Haitian fried beans are literally red kidney beans that we fry and serve as a side dish.
- 1 cup of red kidney beans
- fresh parsley
- vinaigrette (optional)
- oil for frying
Soak your beans the night before
Drain them and transfer them to a pot filed with water
Add one garlic head and cook your beans halfway about 30 minutes
Drain the beans and fry them in some sizzling oil
Season with salt and pepper
Garnish with onions and fresh parsley
Serve hot with a vinaigrette on the side.
For this recipe to be successful, make sure only to cook the beans halfway before frying them or else you'll end up with some mushy beans.
Feel free to season the fried beans to your taste.