Every time I post about my attempts to cook Chinese food, American friends who have lived in China ask about The Green Beans. This dish is a favorite among foreigners in China, but it isn’t often found on the menu of Chinese restaurants in the West. But have no fear, I have learned how to make it and I’m sharing the recipe with you! I did try a couple of different methods before landing on my favorite. My favorite is the recipe from The Beijing Cooking School, a cooking school run by a friend of mine. It teaches foreigners to teach Chinese food, and if you are looking for a fun activity in Beijing, I recommend their classes! Some of the information about ingredients comes from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. I also recommend this cookbook for learning to cook authentic Chinese food (that said, I didn’t like her method for this dish).
Dry Fried Green Beans
干煸四季豆(gānbiānsìjìdòu )/ 干煸豆角(gānbiāndòujiǎo )
Note: these are two names for the same dish, based on two different words for green beans (depending on your location in China, they may or may not be the same type of green beans)
2/3 pound (300 grams) green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces (the green beans usually used for this dish remind me of slightly overgrown green beans in the U.S., I think your average U.S. supermarket green beans would be fine)
1 oz. minced pork (about 2 tablespoons), this can be omitted if you want to make a vegetarian version
Rice wine (Shaoxing wine, this is a cooking wine, medium-dry sherry can be used as a substitute, or you can just skip it)
1/2 tsp salt, divided
6-10 dried chilies, cut in half (use scissors) to remove seeds (you can use several different styles, but you probably want a larger one that is not too spicy)
2/3 tsp Sichuan pepper
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 spring onions, white parts only, chopped finely
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs Sichuan Preserved vegetable (宜宾碎米芽菜 yíbīn suì mǐyácài )
This is the package of the preserved vegetable. I’m not sure if it is available in Asian import stores in the U.S. or not. You can also use Tianjin preserved vegetable, but you have to rinse it well and squeeze it dry first. If you can’t find either, you can make it without.
1. Put rice in the rice cooker and turn it on, so that it will be done by the time you are done cooking. (This is an important step. Don’t forget it.)
2. Mix the pork with a splash of the rice wine and a splash of the soy sauce and let it marinate while you prepare everything else.
3. Prepare all the vegetables and seasonings. You can see in the photo above what it should all look like before you start cooking. (Note, I didn’t actually measure any of my seasonings, and there should really be more chilies, but this is all I had left)
4. Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat in a wok. Add the green beans and 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir fry until fragrant and lightly charred, about 5 minutes. The photo below is what my beans looked like at about the 5 minute mark. Letting them cook long enough at this step is really important to the final texture! When you’re satisfied, push them up to one side of the wok.
5. Turn the heat to a low flame. If there is no oil left in the wok, add 1 tbsp more. Add the minced pork and stir it until it is all cooked well. Mix it into the green beans, and once it is all mixed, push the mixture back up the side of the wok.
6. Add the chilies to the oil at the bottom of the wok. Let them cook until they turn a red-brown color (and smell good). Mix them with the bean mixture, and then push it all back up the side.
7. Add the Sichuan pepper to the oil and cook it until it is brown and fragrant. Mix it into the bean mixture, and push it back up the side.
8. Add the ginger, garlic, and spring onion, cook until they are fragrant and wilted. Mix them with the green beans.
9. Turn the heat up to medium flame, add 1/4 tsp of salt, and the sugar. Stir for 2 minutes.
10. Add the preserved vegetable, and mix into the beans. Cook slightly longer (30 second-1 minute), just to let the vegetable warm a bit.
11. Remove from the wok and serve. Enjoy!