Dry-Fried Green Beans
Dry-fried green beans are one of Sichuan's most famous recipes. The beans are fried until slightly wrinkled. Ground pork, rice wine, and fermented Ya Cai round out the flavor.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.
*What is ya cai?
One of our recipe testers, Deb L., answered this question for us. Ya Cai, the mysterious fermented vegetable ingredient in this recipe, can be purchased on Amazon. You may find it labeled as Yi Bin Sui Mi Ya Cai (made in the Sichuan Province city of Yibin). It’s sold in small foil pouches. Pictures can be worth a thousand words. Snap a picture on your cell phone and take it with you to the Asian market where one 80-gram packet should cost $1 to $2 and provide enough Ya Cai for several recipe batches. It keeps in the refrigerator after opening——just push out the air and seal it up tight. You can also freeze it.
As long as you are in the Asian market pick up a bottle of the Shaoxing (Shaoshing) rice wine. If you buy it in a grocery market, it’ll have salt added. If you’re fortunate to find it in a wine store, it should be a delicious beverage to sip as well as for cooking.