Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans

Gan Bian Si Ji Dou

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

    as a side dish or one of several dishes in a Chinese-style meal
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons any flavorless cooking oil
  • 1 pound green beans, topped, tailed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ pound ground pork or ½ cup dried shrimp, soaked for 2 hours in hot water, then finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ya cai (Sichuan pickled vegetable), finely chopped
  • teaspoons sesame oil

Method

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the cooking oil in a wok until the oil smokes. Lower the heat to medium. Add the beans all at once and Stir-fry until they are tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain and discard any remaining oil. Set the beans aside.
  2. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in the wok until it just begins to smoke. Add the pork or the chopped dried shrimp and Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Along the way, add the rice wine and soy sauce.
  3. Add the ya cai and stir briefly. Then return the beans to the wok. Stir until hot. Remove to a serving dish. Stir in the sesame oil and serve.

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