This is one of Sichuan’s most famous vegetable dishes. The green beans are traditionally dry-fried over a medium heat until they are tender and slightly wrinkled, although these days most restaurants deep-fry them to reduce the cooking time. If you want to minimize the oiliness, you can steam or boil the beans to cook them through instead of frying them, and then follow the rest of the recipe (from step 3) according to the instructions given below. This method is not authentic, but the results are delicious, particularly for the vegetarian version of the dish.—Fuchsia Dunlop
10 ounces haricots verts or green beans
3 ounces ground pork (about 2/3 cup)
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Sichuanese ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Remove any strings from the edges of the beans and trim off the tops and tails. Break them into short sections (about 2 inches long).
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok, add the beans, and stir-fry over a medium flame for about 6 minutes, until they are tender and their skins are a little puckered. Remove from the wok and set aside. If you want to save time, deep-fry the beans at about 350°F (175°C) until they are tender and puckered.
3. Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok over a high flame, add the pork, and stir-fry for 30 seconds or so until it’s cooked, splashing in the Shaoxing rice wine and the soy sauce as you go.
4. Add the ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable and stir-fry briefly until hot, then toss in the beans, stir and toss, adding salt to taste (remember that the ya cai is already very salty).
5. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.
Recipe © 2003 Fuchsia Dunlop. Photo © 2003 Tara Fisher. All rights reserved.