Dry-Fried Green Beans

Chinese Green Beans
ernop/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Ratings (12)
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
210 Calories
5g Fat
33g Carbs
11g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This popular Sichuan (also spelled Szechuan) dish is a staple at many Chinese restaurants. What makes it characteristic of Sichuan 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.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 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
  • For the Stir Fry:
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (chopped)
  • 2 scallions (white part only, chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste

Steps 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 of oil, drizzling it 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Add the sauce and the green beans to the wok. Toss the ingredients together.

  7. Serve hot with rice.

Recipe 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, substitute in 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 a milder kick.