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sichuan blistered green beans

October 22, 2019

Dry-frying is a seriously under-utilized technique! Beyond the obvious health benefits of using little to no oil, dry-frying veggies lends an amazing texture, almost like they have been grilled. They’re blistered and blackened in spots on the surface, but stay crisp in the middle. This method of cooking is so fast that the veggies maintain lots of nutrients. Super healthy, but WAY tastier than anything that seems like it could be healthy.

Remember my post about blistered asparagus? Similar idea, but we’re doing the green beans in a wok or skillet instead of baking.

In the summer, I make mine without pork. Why? I mean, I love pork, and lots of Sichuan recipes like mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) just don’t taste right without the pork. However, summer green beans from my local farmers market have such an incredible flavor. It’s really not necessary to add any meat! I also made it without the sui mi ya cai (pickled greens) because I am trying to watch my sodium. So I’ll post two recipes here – the original, by Maggie Zhu of Omnivore’s Cookbook, which is authentic. My version is lower in salt, lower in cholesterol and fats, and something you could eat every week! (or, at least, I could…)

Probably my favorite green bean recipe!

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RECIPE #1 – adapted by me
Sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
pinch of sugar

Stir fry
tiny splash of veggie oil, just enough that the beans don’t stick to the skillet
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, tough ends removed
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1. Heat wok or skillet on med-high to high heat with splash of oil until wok is rippin’ hot.
2. Throw in green beans. Keep them moving, stirring every thirty seconds. Turn down heat if wok produces too much smoke.
3. Remove green beans when they look nice and blistered. Add another splash of oil and turn down heat to medium.
4. Add Sichuan peppercorns to oil. Remove peppercorns when they turn brown.
5. Add chilis, ginger, and garlic. Keep stirring til your kitchen smells great (maybe 1 minute).
6. Add green beans back to chili-ginger-garlic oil in wok. Stir to coat and turn off heat.

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RECIPE #2 the original, by Maggie Zhu of Omnivore’s Cookbook

Sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (note: this is, for real, a lot)

Stir fry
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) green beans
1/2 pound (220 grams) ground pork
3 tablespoons minced Sichuan pickled mustard greens (Sui Mi Ya Cai)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic , minced
1 teaspoon ginger , minced

1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Dry the green beans thoroughly before cooking to prevent oil splatter.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the green beans and stir to coat well with oil. Spread the beans to prevent them from overlapping, as much as possible. Flip every 15 seconds or so. Cook and stir until the surface is mostly brown and withered, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much. Remove the pan from the stove. Transfer the green beans to a plate and set aside. (*Footnote 4)
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the peppercorns turn dark. Scoop out and save for later. (*Footnote 5)
4. Add the ground pork, Sichuan pickled mustard greens, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and chop the pork to separate it into small pieces. When the surface of the pork turns golden, add the dried chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add back the green beans and pour the sauce over them. Cook and stir until the sauce is mostly absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the stove and taste a green bean. If it’s not salty enough, add a pinch more salt, return the pan to the stove, and stir to mix well. Transfer everything to a plate.
6. Serve hot on top of rice as a main, or as a side.

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If you like your green beans texturally interesting and incredibly flavorful, you have to try this recipe! If you prefer them stewed, can I recommend fasolakia, green beans stewed in oniony tomato sauce? If you like them sour, nothing is better than some lacto-fermented green beans. & if you like your green beans way sweeter, try this Americanized version of Sichuan green beans with hoisin.

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