Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Szechuan Green Beans

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare (and of course, eat) green beans. We first met at Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago, and Szechuan Spice in Minneapolis has most recently filled that Chinatown void. I think they are traditionally deep fried; this version (adapted from here) calls for stir-frying them until they are brown and shriveled. They don't need to be solid brown or completely wrinkled up, just "browned" and "shriveled". You'll hopefully see what I mean if you try this dish... which you should!

1 to 1-1/2 lb fresh green beans
3 T oil (peanut oil works best, but others would be ok)

Sauce (combine the following in a small bowl)
I suggest you adapt this to your taste and heat preferences. Ingredients with a * next to them can be adjusted according to your needs.
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped*
1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated (or finely chopped)*
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 T Sriracha or Asian chili sauce*
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes*
3 T soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Wash and trim the beans. Heat oil over medium heat in a wok (or large pan), add beans and stir-fry until they brown and shrivel. Using a splatter screen may be helpful. This can take a little while, from 5 to 15 minutes, so be patient. Sometimes adding a pinch or two of salt to them helps speed things up. As they brown (which most likely won't be all at the same time) remove from the pan and drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil. 

After all beans have been cooked, you'll want about a tablespoon of oil left in the wok/pan—pour away or add more as needed. Add sauce to the wok/pan and stir-fry a few seconds. Add beans, mix together, and serve over rice. 

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