Szechwan Green Beans

Hi all! Right now I am headed to Guadalajara with my boss–we’re off to visit one of the company’s big clients. Wish me luck, because last time we visited this guy we were strong-armed into going to a ‘party’ with the client and his friends, which landed us in the middle of a field with a mariachi band, about 20 very emotional men (those mariachi tunes really move them), and no working toilets or electricity. As darkness fell, the mosquitoes buzzed hungrily around us and we continued to be plied with beer after beer, my ‘needs’ drove me to an old toilet in the recesses of a crumbling structure that not only was un-operational but was also crawling with large spiders.

I’m hoping this visit is less . . . eventful.

Anyway, today I’m sharing an amazing recipe. It’s an America’s Test Kitchen wonder adapted from their cookbook ‘The Best International Recipe.’

With the best of intentions, I checked this book out of the library because I didn’t want to add another cookbook to my collection unless it was spectacular beyond belief. But after making 3 recipes so far with simply incredible results, I realized that it is spectacular beyond belief. So I’m ordering it on amazon. And you should, too. The writers are thorough, clear with their explanation, and their recipes never fail. Yes, I am proselytizing–but it’s from a very sincere spot in my heart. I’ll be sharing my adaptation of their Thai Chili Beef recipe tomorrow from the same cookbook, and if that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Anyway, this is an awesome weeknight recipe. Unlike some stir fries which require tons of chopping and a good 30 minutes of prep work, this is an extremely effortless little dish made entirely with ingredients available at a regular supermarket. It packs just the right amount of spiciness for my palate, and it’s also just the right amount of food for two hungry individuals.


(Serves 2)

For the sauce

2 TBS water
2 TBS light soy sauce
1 TBS Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dry mustard

For the stir-fry

2 TBS vegetable oil
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
1/3 lb ground turkey or pork
4 garlic cloves
1 TBS grated or minced ginger
3 green onions, sliced on the bias
1 tsp sesame oil

At first it may look like there are a lot of ingredients involved–and a lot of ingredients usually = a lot of effort.

However, most of this clutter is for a quick sauce, so mix all the sauce ingredients up in a bowl:

Don’t forget the dry mustard! I forgot to pose him with the family picture, and there were many hurt feelings all around.

I’m sorry Colonel Mustard! Please don’t murder me with a candlestick in the ballroom.

And voilà. With the sauce out of the way, the remaining ingredients no longer look like a threatening army.

Now wash the green beans and snap off the stems.

If you want to make this dish an even faster affair, just buy pre-trimmed and pre-washed green beans. I almost did . . . but then I didn’t.

Chop ’em into 2-inch lengths.

Heat the oil in a 12” cast iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the green beans . . .

. . . and cook them for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are dark, shriveled and spotted in places.

In between stirrings, mince the garlic and grate the ginger.

Based on recommendations from you all, I have started freezing chunks of ginger. I take the pieces straight out of the freezer and grate them with my microplane. It’s so easy I almost cried.

You can also quickly slice the 3 green onions. Slice ’em on the diagonal for pretty pieces, like so:

By now the green beans should be quite shriveled and blackened.

Perfect! Remove the beans to a large plate for serving.

Don’t worry–they won’t have time to get cold. The rest of the stir fry takes almost exactly 3 minutes.

Next up: la carne. If you’re using ground pork, add it directly to the hot skillet on medium-high heat. If you’re using turkey like I did, add another 1 TBS of oil since it’s a less fatty meat. Plop in the pink mass:

Immediately start breaking up the clumps with a wooden spatula.

Stir fry that stuff for 2 minutes (until the meat is no longer pink) stirring almost constantly.

Add the ginger and garlic, and stir constantly for 30 seconds.

Quickly re-whisk the sauce with a fork (since the cornstarch falls to the bottom as it sits) and pour it in:

Whoops! There went a giant glop of cornstarch. Oh well. I’m just here to make you feel good about yourselves, after all.

Continue to stir and toss the sauce with the meat for another 30 seconds (if you stop, it will burn).

The sauce will thicken quickly. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the sesame oil and green onions.

Pour the meat mixture over the green beans onto the serving plate . . .

. . . grab a big ole serving spoon and some chopsticks . . .

. . . and serve the whole happy pile over white rice.

The house smelled incredible for the rest of the night.

Okay, the next morning there was still a lingering scent as well. It’s one of the byproducts of an apartment with zero ventilation.

The combination of these green beans with the sauce and the ground meat is pitch-perfect.

This is so good, guys. Do yourselves a favor and whip up a batch!

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8 Responses to Szechwan Green Beans

  1. Wendi says:

    Jenna, I love the char you got on those beans. You should check and see if their Teriyaki Stir Fried Beef recipe is in there. Delicious.

  2. Veronica says:

    ATK recipes are the best! They really do their research and make them enough to get them just right. Good luck in Guadalajara! May your toilets be functional and have TP! I hope you packed some just in case!

  3. Sarah says:

    looks great jenna! have a good trip :)

  4. Joanne says:

    I’m fairly certain I need to find a job that takes me to Guadalajara. This whole med student thing just pales in comparison. have a fun trip! Avoid mariachi bands at all costs!

    This recipe looks delicious. I feel like I haven’t made Asian food in far too long…maybe I need that cookbook.

  5. I have never thought of checking cookbooks out from the library….genius!

  6. Aarthi says:

    This looks yummy….you have a lovely blog…I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that

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