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
Dry-Fried Green Beans
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 15 M
- Serves 4
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Dry-frying is just a dry-heat cooking method that uses little to no oil and no water. I particularly like this method for green beans. The beans have great texture—tender with just enough crunch. If you don’t have a wok, a heavy skillet will do, but a few more minutes may be required in the frying time. The recipe called for 6 minutes of frying in a wok. I used a skillet and needed 8 minutes. Stir often to evenly distribute the heat and prevent burning. The beans will pucker, and it’s OK if a few of them are slightly browned in spots.
It took me a while to find Sichuanese ya cai in the Asian market. It helps to know what you’re looking for, so I did a little research before going to the store. The recipe refers to ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable. The preserved vegetable used for Sichuanese ya cai is jie mo cai—mustard green. This type of mustard green is indigenous to Southeast Sichuan and the pickling process is pretty extensive. Look for pickled mustard green or, from the Tianjin area, pickled cabbage. You’ll find them in the refrigerator section of the store, packaged in tightly sealed plastic.
Both vegetables in their preserved state are tart and salty. Consider this when adding additional salt to the dish. I used a low-sodium soy sauce. Rather than add more salt, I placed soy sauce on the table for anyone who needed more seasoning.
There are many versions of dry-fried green beans. Some recipes include minced garlic, spring onions, and ginger. Experiment. This is a very flexible dish. My family does not eat pork, so I substituted ground white meat turkey with excellent results. For a vegetarian/vegan version, add the ingredients aforementioned, and throw in some carrot ribbons (carrot shavings created with a vegetable peeler) for color and a little sweetness. You can also replace the meat with dry-fried, marinated tofu cut into small pieces. Serve as a one-dish meal for lunch or dinner, or with sticky rice or fresh udon or Shanghai noodles.