Editor’s Note: Kris Brown has a knack for winning at long distances. An elite ultrarunner sponsored by Hoka One One, Brown won the Sean O’Brien 50K in February, the San Diego 100 last June, Born to Run Ultra Marathons 30-mile last May and the Leona Divide 50K last April, among others, including a few other podium finishes. This year, the 28-year old is fulfilling his goal of running the June 23-24 Western States Endurance Run before the age of 30. And the California native does all of this outside of his “day” job as the sous chef at Barbareño in Santa Barbara. The restaurant specializes in regional Santa Maria barbecue, with wood-grilled meats and plenty of fresh side dishes. Here he shares a favorite recipe for fueling his long-distance lifestyle. 

Pinquito Beans

Pinquito beans are a staple of California’s Central Coast, where they are the classic side dish for Santa Maria-grilled tri-tip (beef). Roughly the size of a black bean but with a pink color, they’re extremely flavorful, rich in protein and hold up structurally in a long boil. (Pinquito Beans have 12g of protein and 40g of carbs per 1 cup serving size.) Tradition calls for a minimalistic preparation, but this recipe makes use of another Central Coast staple to amp up the flavor, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. A gluten-free soy sauce substitute, long-adored by health food enthusiasts, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are a great secret weapon to have in the pantry for adding savory and umami qualities to your dishes. This dish is also completely vegan, though most people who taste it for the first time don’t believe it. (It tastes like bacon!) This recipe is adapted from Barbareño restaurant in Santa Barbara.

If you can’t find pinquito beans near you, they are available at ranchogordo.com. Photo: Rancho Gordo

How to Prepare:

2 cups dried pinquito beans

1 quart water

2.5 teaspoons salt


½ red onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

½ cup beer (or cider for a gluten-free recipe)


¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

1 red onion, diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos


3-4 tablespoons Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Combine beans, water, and 2 ½ teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Soak overnight.

Drain and rinse beans thoroughly. Add to a pot with ½ diced onion, 5 sliced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and ½ cup beer or cider. Cover by 1 inch with water. Simmer until beans are tender.

Heat oil in a pan on medium. Add minced garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and red pepper, and cook until fragrant (1-2 min). Add diced onion, and cook until translucent.

Remove ½-1 cup beans from the pot and mash them into the aromatics. Add aromatic bean mash back to the bean pot.

Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to the pot. Simmer to reduce/thicken as you wish.

Remove from heat, add Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Tri-tip: This dish is meant to be served with tri-tip. At Barbareño we cook ours sous vide (vacuum-sealed and under water at 135℉ for 8 hours), but a more traditional recipe would be to grill the whole tri-tip to medium-rare over an oak fire after coating it with a simple dry rub of salt, pepper, and chili powder.

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