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Chinese-restaurant bright snappy grean beans?

I love chinese restaurant green beans, but when i don't want to go out (or don't feel like a lot of oil or msg) how do i get green beans so bright, snappy and tender? i've tried steaming then ice-bathing, then stir-frying, but they're not quite right.


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  1. You might be steaming them too long, madkitty. I usually bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cut off the heat, and put the green beans in for just a minute or two, just until they're that bright green, and then shock them in ice water.

    I like to make sure I drain the water well and even towel dry the beans before stir-frying to ensure that excess water doesn't steam them further.

    1. I steam them just until they turn the green I want, then shock them right away..also try to make sure there are not too many in the steamer.

      1. Madkitty, give them a rinse with a tb. of baking soda in a quart or so of water first. Or try blanching them super-briefly and then finishing: the brightness will set from the blanch, once the chlorophyll's activated by the heat.

        1. I steam them in the microwave and they come out bright and with a perfect snap. I rinse them and shake out extra water, then put them on a pie plate, cover and zap for about two minutes.

          1. I stir-fry them on high heat for a few minutes. Then I add a small amount of water. I cover it and let it cook for a minute or two. Unfortunately, I don't have the exact times or amounts because I do it by habit.

            3 Replies
            1. re: raytamsgv

              I do this too; I think the bit of water is what helps. A little oil, garlic then green beans with a bit of salt and a touch of water, then cover until it's the as cooked as I want it to be. Sometimes I'll add other things like hoisin sauce and sugar, sesame seeds a tiny splash of sesame oil, or I'll add oyster sauce, but that's usually what I do. :)

              1. re: S_K

                I'm glad you added the point about the oil and then the garlic. I do that as well, but I was too lazy to type it out.

              2. re: raytamsgv

                I do this as well, but sometimes will blanch or parboil before stir-fry.

              3. The only time I can really recreate a restaurant Chinese green bean recipe is when I deep fry the beans for about 2 minutes. Now that i know how they do it, it is less appealing.

                3 Replies
                1. re: smtucker

                  i was afraid you were going to say that.
                  i've tried most of the ways other people have suggested, and when they're the perfect green they're still a bit tough, when they're tender enough they're no longer snappy and bright.

                  i guess i'll try the deep-frying. just once, to see if that's really what they do!

                  1. re: madkittybadkitty

                    Yup, but because you are only blanching in the oil, the beans don't actually absorb much of the oil. In fact, I suspect that when blanching in oil, and then stir frying, you might actually be using less oil than the water blanch, oil stir fry.

                    1. re: madkittybadkitty

                      Deep-fry, then stir-fry. Or, you can try the slower method of "dry-frying" in the wok with less oil (you will probably want to do this in batches, and make sure the washed beans are bone dry). Most restaurants call the dish "dry fried...." (gan bian), but deep-fry instead of dry-fry to save time.

                      A couple links with Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe from "Land of Plenty".

                      It's a tricky one to pull off at home - I don't know that I've ever done it 100% successfully.

                  2. To add to what others have said - also don't cover the pot of boiling water after you insert the beans to blanch.