Gan bian si ji—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. Today that dish and I are on a road trip back to authenticity, and we're going to be driving that minibus over some uncharted territory.
'green bean' on Serious Eats
I love a crisp sautéed green bean or a fresh and crunchy green bean salad as much as anyone, but there's a time and a place for everything, and I'd like to make the case for tender braised green beans. Let's bust out of this al dente prison we're stuck in now, shall we?
Thai pomelos tend to be dryer and less sweet than their American-available counterparts, but that shouldn't stop you from using them in a Thai-inspired salad nonetheless. Heck, even bitter grapefruit would make a great addition to this salad that combines fiery heat, bitterness, and sweetness in perfect balance.
Two types of beans, red kidney and green beans, are combined with pickled red peppers and fire-roasted jalapeños in this amped-up redux of the time-honored three-bean salad.
Alas (I suppose) these green beans are only cooked in the manner of snails, not with the garden creatures. No matter, the unapologetically garlicky snail butter is still darn good and makes a fine accompaniment to the tender green beans.
Pork loves sweet, snappy counterparts—think pulled pork and cole slaw, or pork chops with sautéed apples. Maybe that's why pork and beans are such a classic Chinese combination. In this version, I use sliced marinated pork loin stir-fried very quickly with some blanched green beans, all flavored with ginger, garlic, and a simple marinade. It comes together in just about the same time that it takes to steam a batch of rice, making this a perfect weeknight meal.
Roasted green beans are swathed in balsamic vinaigrette and stippled with hazelnuts and crumbled blue cheese.
Green beans, mushrooms, and onions in a stove-top side dish that brings out the flavors of a classic green bean casserole.
Sticky, hoisin-glazed chops are baked in the oven and served with a quick, spicy stir-fry of chopped, Sichuan-style green beans.
There's tofu, and then there's dry tofu. This stir-fry with snappy green beans and rice has a hint of chili and a gingery kick for a tasty and filling meal with that takes all of five minutes to cook.
Dumping green beans in a pot with potatoes and boiling them for 25 minutes, as Domenica Marchetti instructs in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, sounded like a pretty crazy idea. But I tried it anyway. Once the beans and potatoes were totally tender, I drained them and smashed them up, slowly drizzling in olive oil along the way. Towards the end, I added a pan-ful of crispy pancetta. Somewhere between the first smash and the last, the mushy beans and potatoes transformed into a soft green bowl of creamy comfort food.
Did anyone else eat a version of green beans with almonds as a kid at just about every "fancy" family meal? My parents served it constantly, always slicked with a generous helping of melted butter. This green bean salad from The French Market Cookbook evokes that dish while adding its own twists.
[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt] Note: Ponzu can be found in most Asian grocers or ordered online. About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking...