Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Stir fry

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, tough ends removed
(Optional) 1/2 pound (220 grams) ground pork (*Footnote 1)
(Optional) 3 tablespoons Sichuan pickled mustard greens (Sui Mi Ya Cai) (*Footnote 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers (*Footnote 3)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Dry the green beans thoroughly before cooking to prevent oil splatter.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the green beans and stir to coat well with oil. Spread the beans to prevent them from overlapping, as much as possible. Flip every 15 seconds or so. Cook and stir until the surface is mostly brown and withered, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much. Remove the pan from the stove. Transfer the green beans to a plate and set aside. (*Footnote 4)

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the peppercorns turn dark. Scoop out and save for later. (*Footnote 5)

Add the ground pork, Sichuan pickled mustard greens, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and chop the pork to separate it into small pieces. When the surface of the pork turns golden, add the dried chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add back the green beans and pour the sauce over them. Cook and stir until the sauce is mostly absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the stove and taste a green bean. If it’s not salty enough, add a pinch more salt, return the pan to the stove, and stir to mix well. Transfer everything to a plate.
Serve hot on top of rice as a main, or as a side.

NOTES

The purpose of ground pork is to add flavor, although I did use a bit more pork in this recipe to make the dish substantial enough to serve as a main. You can replace it with ground chicken or ground beef, or skip it altogether for a side dish. If you choose to skip the ground meat, I highly recommend you add 2 more tablespoons of the Sichuan pickled mustard greens to enhance the flavor. If you do not have Sichuan pickled mustard greens, adding a bit of chicken bouillon, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work too.

Sichuan pickled mustard greens add savory and sweetness to the dish, making it extra rich. You can double the pickles and skip the salt to make the dish extra fragrant. If you do not have pickled mustard greens, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work great, too.

The dried chili peppers add a fragrance and smokiness to the dish but not much in terms of heat. If you want the dish to be a bit spicy, break apart the chili peppers before adding them.
Alternatively, you could use a pair of tongs to remove charred beans and transfer them to a plate. This way, the beans will be browned more evenly without overcooking.

For the cooked Sichuan peppercorns, drain the oil with kitchen paper towel and ground them to powder. You can use them on the cooked green beans to add a zing or add to other dishes such as noodles etc.

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