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Sichuan Dry-Fried String Bean

Sichuan Dry-Fried String Bean



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Authentic Sichuan Dry-Fried String Bean

String beans are loved by many people because they are healthy and delicious. String beans can be prepared in many different ways but for me there is no better string bean dish than the popular Sichuan dish called Dry-Fried String Beans.

Known for its great flavor and outstanding texture, Dry-Fried String Beans is arguably one of most well known Chinese string bean dishes served in virtually every Chinese restaurants ranging from takeout joints to high end places.

Traditionally, the string beans are first deep fried to seal the natural flavor. Then they are cooked using a special technique called dry-frying – a frying technical that involves high heat, and little to no liquid. The technique is the key behind that famous slightly crunch outside but soft inside texture.

Follow this recipe to create your own authentic Dry-Fried String Beans.

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String beans are loved by many people because they are healthy and delicious. Like all legumes string beans are rich in protein and fiber and low in fat.

If you are like me who is considering shaking off a few extra ponds to get ready for the summer then string beans will be your best friends for the next few months.

String beans can be prepared in many different ways but for me there is no better string bean dish than the popular Sichuan dish called Dry-Fried String Beans.

Known for its great flavor and outstanding texture, Dry-Fried String Beans is arguably one of most well known Chinese string bean dishes served in virtually every Chinese restaurants ranging from takeout joints to high end places.

Traditionally, the string beans are first deep fried to seal the natural flavor. Then they are cooked using a special technique called dry-frying ( ) – a frying technical that involves high heat, and little to no liquid. The technique is the key behind that famous slightly crunch outside but soft inside texture.

For those who are health conscious, I’ve added to step to rinse off the extra oil after deep frying. Also you can skip the minced pork or beef to make it vegetarian friendly. And don’t forget to make some steamed rice because this dish can be quite a rice killer :)

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String beans are loved by many people because they are healthy and delicious. String beans can be prepared in many different ways but for me there is no better string bean dish than the popular Sichuan dish called Dry-Fried String Beans.

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Traditionally, the string beans are first deep fried to seal the natural flavor. The technique is the key behind that famous slightly crunch outside but soft inside texture.

Follow the recipe to create your own resetaurant quality Dry-Fried String Beans.

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Notes

For a completely vegetarian version, replace the meat with shiitake mushroom!

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Fresh String Beans
  • 6 Ounces Minced Pork or Beef
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Chinese preserved vegetables, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, sliced or minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Chili
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Shrimp (optional)

Easy Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji Dou) Without a Wok Recipe

Gan Bian Si Ji Dou—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. The real version should be bright and light, featuring beans with blistered skins and snappy interiors, and tossed with chili-flavored oil, Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chopped preserved mustard root. It's a pretty far cry from the oily, drab, pork-smothered versions you find in Chinese take-out joints. Today gan bian si ji and I are on a road trip back to authenticity, and we're going to be driving that minibus over some uncharted territory.

Note: Sichuan peppercorns can be found in most Asian markets or spice markets or ordered online. Discard any dark black seeds or stems before using (use the reddish brown husks only). Preserved mustard stems can be found at a well-stocked Asian grocer either in a fresh refrigerated bulk bin or in cans, or it can be ordered whole or shredded online. If you can't find them, a mixture of 2 1/2 tablespoons minced mild kimchi and 1/2 a tablespoon of minced capers will work in its place.


Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound green beans
  • Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili bean sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • 5 or 6 dried red chiles
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

Directions

Cover the dried shrimp with hot water for 30 minutes.

Chop into the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.

Rinse the Sichuan preserved vegetables with cold water to wash off the brine and salt chop into the same texture as the shrimp.

In a hot wok add the oil and heat to 375℉ (190℃).

Deep fry the beans in two or three batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until they look wrinkled, blistered and khaki color.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok.

Reheat the wok over high heat.

Add the ginger and garlic stir-fry for 15 seconds.

Add the pork, preserved mustard, dried shrimp stir-fry for 1 minute longer.

Poke and break up the clumps of pork so that it looks crumbled.

Add the green onion, sugar, white pepper and soy sauce toss together to blend.

Return the reserved green beans, chicken stock and sesame oil toss vigorously over high heat until all liquids are reduced and absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes.


HOW TO MAKE SICHUAN FRIED GREEN BEANS WITH CHAI POR?

Pluck both ends of the string bean and pull to remove the fibre from the sides. Wash and pat dry.

Wash the meat and pat dry, then mince finely.

Wash the dried shrimps and remove the remnants of the shell and legs if any. Soak in hot water until soft. Remove them from the water and drain dry. Keep the water for later use.

Rinse the sweet radish and cut into tiny cubes.

Remove the skin from the ginger, and mince it finely. Remove the skin of the garlic and chop finely.

Soak the dried chili in hot water until soft. Remove the seeds, rinse and pat dry. Then cut into small pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Heat 50 ml of oil in a wok over high heat. Then add in the string beans in batches and deep fry till they start to shrivel up with brown spots on the skin.

Blanch the string beans in hot water to remove excess oil, then drain and pat dry.

Remove the oil from the wok leaving behind just 2 tsp of oil. Add in the small dried shrimp and fry until dried shrimps are aromatic.

Push the dried shrimps to the side, then add 1 tsp of oil. Add the garlic, ginger, dried chili and szechuan peppercorn and stir fry over medium heat until aromatic.

Add in the sweet radish (Chai Por) and stir mixing well until softened.

Next, add in the minced meat, light soya sauce, Chinese rice wine, sugar and dark soya sauce and mix well. Continue to fry till the meat is cooked.

Finally, pour back the precooked string beans and mix well with all the other ingredients.

Transfer to a plate and serve with a bowl of steaming hot rice.


Pictorial: Sichuan Style Dry-Fried String Beans

I've recently become aware of the existence of this chain of Xi'an restaurants in NewYork. Are there more elsewhere?

They were recenty referenced in a BBC article about biang biang noodles.

Following my posting a supermarket bought roast rabbit in the Dinner topic, @Anna N expressed her surprise at my local supermarkets selling such things just like in the west supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. I promised to photograph the pre-cooked food round these parts.

I can't identify them all, so have fun guessing!


Stewed Duck Feet (often served with the snails above)


Beijing Duck gets its own counter.

More pre-cooked food to come. Apologies for some bady lit images - I guess the designers didn't figure on nosy foreigners inspecting the goods and disseminating pictures worldwide.

While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades".

What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally.

Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in traditional Chinese characters, now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad.

I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation.

Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine.

I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜 Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'.

Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis

This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc. In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more.

This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens.

In 2016, a purple variety of napa cabbage was bred in Korea and that has been introduced to China as 紫罗兰白菜 (zǐ luó lán bái cài) - literally 'violet cabbage'.

Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.

I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.

Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.

I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.

1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.

2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.


3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.


4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.


When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.

Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.

Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.

Two of my family members are pescetarian, one of whom is my picky daughter who only likes a few types of fish cooked in very specific ways so to all intents and purposes is mostly vegetarian. Many Chinese soup recipes involve meat or fish, or at least meat broth, so I'd love to find a few more recipes that would suit my whole family (I also don't eat much pork as it doesn't always agree with me, and a lot of soups involve pork so this is also for my benefit!). Vegetarian would be best, or pescetarian soups that are not obviously seafood based (I could get away with sneaking a small amount of dried shrimp in, for instance, but not much more than that!).

Any kind of soup will do, although I'd particularly like some simple recipes that could be served alongside a multi-dish meal. But I'm always interested in new recipes so any good soup recipes would be welcome!

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Stir Fry 炒四季豆

Heat your stir fry pan to medium (280°F = 5.0 on the Duxtop induction) and add 2 tsp of oil. Add 1/3 lb of ground pork, preferably with higher fat content like pork belly. You could also use ground beef here, preferably 80/20. I couldn’t find ground pork at the store during quarantine, so I ground (very lean) pork loin at home myself.

Break up the ground pork with your spatula and add 1/2 tsp light soy sauce. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add all of your aromatics, and cook, tossing continuously, until they are fragrant and golden brown.

Stir fry blistered green beans with pork and aromatics until the green beans are golden-brown and starting to shrivel
将已经干炒的四季豆加入锅中,翻炒至金黄·虎皮

Turn your heat to medium-high (6.5 on the Duxtop induction). Add an additional 2 tsp of oil (you can use less if your ground meat rendered out enough fat). Wait a few seconds for the oil to come to temp, and add your blistered green beans. Cook, tossing continuously, until the green beans are golden-brown and starting to shrivel in places. Add 0.25 tsp kosher salt, 0.25 tsp granulated sugar, and 1 tsp light soy sauce. Keep cooking and tossing until all of the soy sauce has absorbed (

2 minutes). Drizzle 1/2 tsp of Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar) around the sides of the pan, and toss to combine. Turn off the heat, plate it up, and enjoy!

If you love spicy green beans, don’t forget us to leave us a comment below. Tag us on Instagram at #thericelover to share what you’ve made!


Sichuan Green Bean Recipes

Szechuan green beans are also known as Sichuan dry-fried green beans (干煸四季豆, Gan Bian Si Ji Dou). This dish is very popular in both the West and East and the interesting thing is the majority of English recipes like to make a “vegetarian” version of this dish but if you search for this dish in Chinese, 99% of the recipes contain pork mince.

In this article I decided to include the former Chinese food expert’s recipe but also my version of this delicious, simple and quick dish. The authentic way to eat this dish is with mince and beans which makes this a perfect weeknight dinner recipe. All you need to do is cook this dish, serve with some hot rice and you have a dish that’s delicious, cheap and full of nutrition. Perfect or a working mum like me.

I like to use both fresh and dried chilli to cook this dish but you don’t have to use two different kinds of chilli. The reason I use two kinds of chili is I like the combination of spicy flavours and personally I like my food really quite spicy but if you don’t, you can use less chilli or just leave them out entirely. As with a lot of Eastern cooking you don’t have to stick to the recipes but this dish does taste better with.

Another interesting ingredient I used in my recipe is “Tianjin preserved vegetable”. This preserved vegetable consists of finely chopped Tianjian cabbage. It tastes quite salty so it’s better to add this in your dish first then check the seasoning afterward. But this ingredient is also optional.

Make sure you wash and drain the green beans ahead of cooking so you can get rid of as much water as you can. You need to rid of the water so that when you deep-fry the dish you won’t have too much oil splash or even oil pops. Please check the article “Deep-fried Cooking Techniques in Chinese Cooking” before you start if you’re not familiar with how to deep-fry.


For the Best Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans, Ditch the Wok and Turn on the Broiler | The Food Lab

Gan bian si ji dou—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. The real version should be bright and light, featuring beans with blistered skins and snappy interiors and tossed with chili-flavored oil, Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chopped preserved mustard root. It's a pretty far cry from the oily, drab, pork-smothered versions you find in Chinese take-out joints. While a bit of minced pork is not totally out of the question, it's hardly a required ingredient.

Having spent a great deal of time traveling and attempting to understand (or at the very least taste) the foods of other cultures, I strive for authenticity when working on a recipe that holds a hallowed position in the canon of a particular society, whether it's Southern fried chicken or Italian ragù Bolognese.

But my definition of "authentic" may be a little different from most. I'm firmly of the opinion that it's the spirit and flavor of a dish that define its authenticity as opposed to any sort of prescriptivist method or set of ingredients. Altering recipes or techniques to suit your tools, your cooking style, and your ingredients is no mark against authenticity.

Keep this in mind as you read this article, because today gan bian si ji dou and I are on a road trip back to authenticity, and we're going to be driving that minibus over some uncharted territory.

The most common issues that arose when translating a recipe for an audience that lives on the other side of the world used to be making sure that flavor profiles were adjusted appropriately to suit the palate of home cooks who are accustomed to a different set of textures and flavors. These days, thanks in no small part to the wonders of the internet and inexpensive worldwide shipping, our palates have become far, far more cosmopolitan. The questions here are not those of flavor—I want my beans to taste like they did in Sichuan—but of technique.

The real culprit here is the dry-frying stage. See, Sichuan-style beans are cooked via a two-step process. First they're fried in a reasonably large amount of really, really hot oil in the wok. This causes their skins to blister, split, and lightly brown while letting them retain some crunch and moisture at their core. After this, the fat is drained and the beans are very briefly stir-fried with a mixture of aromatics to give them flavor.

While it's perfectly possible to dry-fry green beans at home just as cooks do in Sichuan, it's a largely impractical process given that, unlike in Sichuan, we don't have too many uses for a wok-ful of hot oil once our beans are done. Even a ridiculously obsessive and frequent cook like me thinks twice before deciding to heat up a few cups of oil just for the sake of one dish—oil that then has to be strained, cooled, transferred to a sealed container, and stored for next time.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a method that gave you similar results without the need for all that excess fat?

To this end, I tried a half dozen different techniques, starting with the two most common hacks: blanching in water and shallow-frying. The former method, touted by the always-incredible Fuchsia Dunlop, produces a dish that's very tasty, with bright, fresh flavors and nice snappy beans, but it's not quite what I was looking for.

Shallow-frying beans by using a relatively small amount of oil (say, half a cup or so) before draining and re-stir-frying them is another common technique. The problem is that with just half a cup of oil, the temperature drops far too rapidly when you add the beans. Instead of blistering and browning, they shrivel and turn mushy.

Instead, I turned my attention to the oven. I figured that if I were to preheat my oven enough, I might be able to get a similar effect by tossing my beans in a little oil and throwing them in for a few moments. The regular oven, even when heated to its maximum temperature of 550°F didn't cook quite fast enough—the beans still turned soft by the time they were blistered—but the broiler-cooked beans were fantastic. By letting the broiler heat up to inferno-levels, then placing the beans as close as possible underneath, I was able to get them to blister and brown in record time.

Not only that, but by cooking so close to the heat source, I could see little jets of vaporized oil and bean juices spurting up and igniting under the heat of the element, lending the beans some of that coveted wok hei, the smoky essence of wok cooking that is so essential to many great Chinese dishes. Completely inadvertently, I'd managed to create wok hei without even using a wok!

The idea of making this dish 100% wok-free was an appealing one. Don't get me wrong. I love my wok and use it all the time, but if I could make this dish convincingly with nothing more than a rimmed baking sheet and a skillet, it'd open it up to many more home cooks who don't necessarily have a wok in their arsenal.

I decided to see what I could do about the sauce.

Keeping Cool

A quick run-down on the traditional version: Heat oil in a wok, add some whole dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorns (for that classic ma-la Sichuan flavor combination), stir-fry until the dried spices sputter and add their flavor to the oil. Next, add more aromatics: garlic, ginger, and scallion bottoms. Finally, stir in some chopped ya cai (Sichuan spicy pickled mustard root, more on that in a minute) or Tianjin-style preserved vegetables, season it all to taste, then toss it with your fried green beans. That's it. It's not a particularly hard process, but it does involve high heat, rapid action, and a wok.

When I was working on my recipe for General Tso's Chicken, I discovered much to my surprise and delight that for dishes where stir-frying is not 100% essential for the main ingredients, making your sauce via a lower heat method in a skillet can actually lead to tastier, more balanced results. Could the same be true here?

I made two batches of aromatics side by side. The first I made with the traditional high heat, rapid-fire method in the wok before tossing with my broiled beans. The second I made by heating my oil, peppercorns, and chiles in a skillet over moderate heat until sizzling, then stirring in my garlic, ginger, scallions, and pickled mustard root and cooking them gently until aromatic before tossing it all with my broiled beans.

There was no question: the version that was cooked more gently had a better balanced flavor and, more importantly, a flavor that spread itself over the green beans in a much more intense way, presumably because slow cooking gives more time for flavorful compounds to infuse and disperse in the oil.

It was a win-win situation: Not only did I come up with a technique that is easier and less messy in a Western kitchen, but it also produced better flavor. That's a rare and lucky combination in recipe development.

The only question remaining goes back to the issue of ingredient availability. I've lived in Boston, New York, and San Francisco over the last decade or so, and in every location, I've been lucky enough to find a good source for imported Chinese ingredients. Ya cai is mustard root that has been heavily salted and preserved with a number of spicy aromatics. It has a salty flavor and crunchy-but-tender texture. It can be found in bulk refrigerated bins in a good market like New York Mart in Manhattan's Chinatown or one of the large Asian markets in Boston. You can also order it online from Amazon. In San Francisco, I haven't found the large bulbs, but the May Wah supermarket in the Richmond district sells jars of chopped mustard stems and roots preserved with Sichuan peppercorn oil. If anything, it's almost tastier than the whole preserved roots.

But I get it not everyone lives on the coast or wants to order their ingredients online, so I did some experimenting to see if I could come up with a reasonable substitute, testing everything from American-style pickles (too acidic) to sauerkraut (too cabbage-y) to olives (they tasted great, but they taste like olives). The best substitute? A mixture of finely minced kimchi (the milder the better) cut with just a few rinsed capers comes pretty darn close—certainly close enough to convince anyone who hasn't had the real deal, at least, and that's good enough for me.

So there it is: One of my favorite dishes made in a way that is entirely non-traditional, though I dare say that the true measure of authenticity is not about how something is made, but about how it tastes. On that measure, my broiled, low-temperature, kimchi-and-caper gan bian si ji dou are about as authentic a recipe as I've seen on this side of the Pacific.


Sichuan-Style Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji)

Todd Coleman

Thanks to my father, who always orders this dish at Chinese restaurants in America, gan bian si ji dou, the Mandarin name for Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans, was one of the few things I could say when I first moved to Beijing in 2009. The green beans are shallow-fried, a method which blisters them on the outside and renders them tender on the inside, with a whisper of a chew. Just enough pork for flavor cinches this dish, though the addition of ya cai, fermented Sichuan mustard greens, with their salty, umami flavor, makes it truly authentic and magical. Renditions vary, but the process of cooking it yourself—choosing whether it should be mild or spicy, garlicky or gingery, or if it should include dried chiles, salted black beans, or ground pork—is what makes the dish so likable. —Lillian Chou, a Beijing-based chef and writer

Sichuan-Style Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji)