On the menu of many Chinese restaurants, classic wrinkled green beans from the Szechuan region of southwestern China remain one of my favorite dishes. “Dry frying” the beans in a wok at home makes quite the mess with hot oil splattered over the stove and adjacent counters. There had to be another way. And, now there is. I developed an alternative to dry-frying that creates the same shriveled, browned and tender green beans but without the mess.
I first roast the green beans in the tiniest amount of oil in a very hot oven just like I also roast fresh asparagus. After their 10-12 minutes in the oven, the beans get tossed with the aromatic garlic, ginger, scallions and chili paste in a very hot pan. With a drizzle of soy and toasted sesame oil they’re ready to serve in all their wrinkled, gingery and garlicky splendor.
I like to use the very slender, flavorful and tender French green beans known as haricots verts in this dish. (Note: Costco sells fresh haricots verts already trimmed in 2 pound packages.) Chinese long beans or regular green beans, cut into 2-3 inch lengths will also work. Just extend the roasting time another 3-5 minutes until the beans are tender.
Beyond green beans
That final toss in the scallion/ginger/garlic/chili paste/soy blend produces boldly flavored vegetables. Try it with roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus and even cubes of winter squash. You may find yourself doing as I do—using your chopsticks to eat every last bit of ginger from the sides of your bowl.
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Wrinkled Green Beans
An updated classic from the Szechuan region of southwestern China—shriveled, gingery, garlicky, tender and way delicious green beans. Vegan and dairy-free. Gluten-free as well when you use wheat-free tamari or soy sauce.
Makes 4-6 servings
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25-30 minutes
1 pound haricots verts or other green beans
1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon (or more to taste) chili paste such as sambal oelek
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Wash the green beans and trim the stem end. Dry the green beans and toss them with 1 teaspoon of oil. Lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the green beans for 10-16 minutes until shriveled, browned and tender. After 7 minutes, shake the pan to turn the beans over.
When the green beans are roasted, place a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. When hot add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir in the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir in the green beans. Stir in the sambal oelek, soy sauce and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. When well mixed, transfer to a serving platter or individual bowls or plates.
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