There's something magical about the way green beans puff and wrinkle in shimmering oil. In my opinion, there's no better way to prepare the humble string bean. Diana Kuan's dry-fried green beans in The Chinese Takeout Cookbook are less embellished than versions seen at Chinese restaurants; she keeps things simple by skipping the ground pork and preserved vegetable that are often included. Instead, the beans are bolstered by minced and browned fresh shiitakes and the requisite Sichuan pepper, chili bean sauce, and dried red chiles. These changes not only make the dish easier to prepare with grocery staples, but they also give the beans themselves a greater chance to shine.
Why I picked this recipe: Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans are one of my favorite vegetable preparations on the Chinese takeout menu.
What worked: I would be lying if I didn't say that I ate almost all of this dish in one sitting.
What didn't: I would have liked more spice in the beans. I ended up drizzling some chili oil on mine before serving, but next time, I'll just up the chili bean sauce.
Suggested tweaks: You could, of course, add a bit of ground pork (or preserved vegetable, if you can find it) back into the dish. Add the pork to the wok with the chiles and peppercorns and stir-fry briefly before adding the mushrooms.
Reprinted from The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and easy dishes to prepare at home by Diana Kuan. Copyright 2012. Published by Ballantine Booka, an imprint of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 3/4 pound green beans
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili bean sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
- 5 or 6 dried red chiles
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
- 3 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
Rinse the green beans and dry them thoroughly; even a small amount of water will cause the oil to in the wok to spit. Cut the beans into 2-inch lengths.
Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the rice wine, chili bean sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the green beans and stir-fry, keeping the beans constantly moving, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the outsides begin to blister and the beans are wilted. Turn off the heat, remove the green beans, and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil and reheat the wok. Add the chiles, Sichuan pepper, garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for about another minute, until the mushrooms have browned and started to crisp. Add the sauce. Return the green beans to the wok and stir-fry for about another minute. Transfer to a plate and serve hot.