This simple but time-consuming dish is a classic of the cuisine of Sichuan, but it is not torridly seasoned with chilies or Sichuan peppercorns. This does not make it atypical. In fact it illustrates one of the fifty-six cooking methods of the Sichuanese canon listed in the standard Sichuan culinary encyclopedia and quoted in full in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty (2001), itself now the standard work on the subject in English. Can bian, explains Ms. Dunlop, involves “food cut into slivers or strips… stirred constantly in a wok with very little oil, over a medium flame, until it is slightly dried out and beautifully fragrant.” The other version of gan bian si ji dou that I have seen, in Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook by Ellen Schrecker (1976), adds soaked dried shrimp instead of ground pork to the beans. There are other small differences, but both recipes include Sichuan pickled vegetable, or ya cai, a quite salty preserved root of turnip. The long-cooked beans give the dish its crucial texture; the ya cai its distinctive flavor.
Ms. Dunlop notes that restaurants often deep-fry the beans to speed up the cooking. You are free to disapprove once you have done the dish the traditional way.