Chinese Green Beans

Chinese Green Beans
ernop/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
Ratings (12)

This popular Szechuan dish is a staple at many Chinese restaurant buffets. What makes it characteristic of Szechuan cooking is not only the added spice but also the technique of dry-frying. Dry-frying isn't totally "dry," but you do use less oil and cook the vegetable for longer than if you were stir-frying. The idea is to dehydrate the green beans, concentrating the flavor and making them nice and crispy and somewhat charred. The resulting wrinkled exterior creates little nooks and crannies, perfect for holding in the sauce, allowing you to use less and letting the vegetable take center stage.

This recipe calls for regular green beans, but if you like (and can find them) you can substitute Chinese green beans. They are thinner and longer than the standard bean, so for a dramatic presentation, skip the step of cutting the beans into pieces.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 2 scallions (white part only, chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon bean sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

How to Make It

  1. Wash the green beans and drain thoroughly. Trim the ends and cut on the diagonal into pieces approximately 2 inches long.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the wok over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, drizzling the oil down the sides of the wok.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the beans. Stir-fry for 7 to 10 minutes, until their skins pucker and turn brown and the green beans are tender without being mushy. Remove the beans from the wok.
  1. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir-fry briefly for a few seconds until aromatic. Add the chili paste and stir to combine.
  2. Add the sauce and the green beans to the wok. Toss the ingredients together and serve hot.

Tips and Variations

Chinese bean sauce is a mixture of fermented soy beans, water, salt, wheat flour, sugar, and sesame oil. It is available at Asian markets (Koon Chun is a good brand) but if you can't find any you can substitute hoisin sauce (although it is a bit sweeter than bean sauce). You may come across other versions of bean sauce labeled "sweet bean paste," "black bean garlic sauce," or "spicy bean sauce;" each contains different ingredients from regular bean sauce and thus will impart a slightly different taste, but feel free to use if needed.

You can also substitute 4 to 6 small dried red chilis for the chili paste, or cut down on a bit on the spice if you like your food milder tasting. 

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 210
Total Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Unsaturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 310 mg
Carbohydrates 33 g
Dietary Fiber 12 g
Protein 11 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)