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Szechuan Green Beans...HELP!

ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 07:12 PM

Am I the last person on the planet never to have made Szechuan Green Beans? Inspired by foodieX2's enthusiasm on the "Relying on old cookbooks" thread, I googled, I found 2 very different ingredient recipes. The first called for:

1 lb french green beans, ends trimmed
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp fresh ginger, minced
5 tbsp scallions, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes

The second was:
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger, peeled
2 scallions
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp hot red-pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tamari soy
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 pound green beans, tipped and tailed

Is either of theses close to how you do it?

  1. v
    Violatp Mar 24, 2013 07:17 PM

    I've never made them, but the second recipe seems closer to what I've often eaten.

    1. f
      fourunder Mar 24, 2013 07:35 PM

      1. Chinese do not *French* green or long beans

      2. Recipe #2 would appear more traditional

      3. The secret to tender Chinese Green or Long Bean dishes......is to cook twice or deep fry them in oil to burst the skins.

      btw....olive oil is never used for Chinese cooking.

      5 Replies
      1. re: fourunder
        ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 08:07 PM

        Thanks violatp. As I continue to search it does seem that some version of the 2nd, simpler dish is prevalent.
        fourunder, thank you for the information. Is it possible that the term French beans here is referring to haricot verts? Maybe the popularity of the dish has resulted in very unauthentic versions. I am sure interested in trying this. Would the common green bean available in the US be used?

        1. re: fourunder
          GH1618 Mar 24, 2013 10:42 PM

          I think it just means long, thin green beans.

          1. re: GH1618
            fourunder Mar 24, 2013 11:34 PM

            If you are referring to Haricot Vert, then I stand corrected on Recipe #1, but then again, they are not generally used in Chinese Cooking.

          2. re: fourunder
            sandylc Sep 24, 2013 02:48 PM

            I think French refers to small green beans, not frenched ones.

            Oops...read before posting, read before posting...

            1. re: sandylc
              boogiebaby Sep 24, 2013 04:45 PM

              In Asian (Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, etc.) recipes, French beans generally refer to what we call green beans, as opposed to long beans, which are the super long, darker, tougher beans.

          3. ipsedixit Mar 24, 2013 07:57 PM

            My apologies, and I don't mean to be obtuse about this, but what do mean when you say "Szechuan Green Beans"?

            There are many many different preps for green beans in Sichuan (or Szechuan) cuisine. Do you have a particular type of dish in mind? Stir-fry, braise, etc. Alone, or cooked with other ingredients, etc.

            It's a bit like asking, does this recipe look right for "American hot dogs" when in fact you could be asking for Chicago-style dogs, Sonoran dogs, a NYC dirty-water dog, a KC style dog, a Cheesey Coney, etc.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 08:15 PM

              ipsy LOL - you couldn't be as dense on this subject as I am. I probably don't know what to ask for. I realize it sounds generic, but I got the impression that this has been a popular dish for the last 20 or 30 years and I alone have not heard of it. I was hoping that someone would answer with, "yeah lady, the rest of us been eatin' these beans for ages, where you been? Here's how you cook them." I know that doesn't answer your question.

              1. re: ItalianNana
                ipsedixit Mar 24, 2013 08:26 PM

                Well, I am going to assume you want to stir-fry green beans.

                So lets start with your basic green bean stir fry. You'll need to get some long beans, trim the ends, and then cut them in 1/3 (so that you end up with beans about an inch in length)

                Then you'll want to stir fry the green beans. Heat up some oil (either veggie, corn or sesame, pref. sesame but not essential) in a fry pan, saute pan or wok. When a drop of water dances, the oil is hot enough to add the beans. Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes.

                Remove the beans from the pan or wok and set aside. Reserve about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of oil in the wok and discard the rest.

                Now, pay attention, here is where you make "Sichuan" green beans, as opposed to any other kind of Chinese green beans.

                To the pan or wok with the oil, add a combo of the following:diced garlic, ginger, dried chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns. Turn up the heat on the stove and stir fry these ingredients for about 30 seconds, until you can smell the Sichuan peppercorns calling your name.

                Now add back in your green beans, and then some soy sauce, black bean sauce (or hoisin sauce), rice wine vinegar and a bit of sesame oil. Stir and toss for about a minute.

                Plate and serve.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 09:47 PM


                  Thanks for the detailed info. I really want to hear those peppercorns call my name!

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    alkapal Mar 25, 2013 06:14 AM

                    regular green beans have been used and they're on sale now, whereas the chinese long green beans are pricey around here (don't know about your area).

                    ipse, why are you cutting the beans so short? all the ones i've seen are the same length as a regular green bean (hmmm…coincidence? LOL).

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      sandylc Sep 24, 2013 02:50 PM

                      I've seen a number of recipes for these with a bit of ground pork in them...is this legit?

                2. w
                  Westminstress Mar 24, 2013 08:18 PM

                  Try this recipe, from this months COTM:

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Westminstress
                    ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 09:59 PM

                    Westminstress, I missed last month's COTM. Thank you. The picture of the dish looks delicious and best of all sounds simple.

                    1. re: Westminstress
                      Melanie Wong Mar 24, 2013 10:06 PM

                      The recipe does have the requisite preserved vegetable (or use Chinese olives for another spin), but the technique is all wrong.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 10:37 PM


                        I'm all ears.

                      2. re: Westminstress
                        Westminstress Mar 25, 2013 07:40 AM

                        I assume you mean that the technique is wrong because the beans are first blanched instead of fried? Here's another version of the Dunlop recipe, which calls for stirfrying or deep frying the green beans in the first cooking (though she does mention in the headnotes that you can steam or boil the beans if you want to reduce the oiliness of the final dish). http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/dry-fr...

                        In another thread, buttertart mentioned that she roasts instead of fries the green beans for the first cooking, which results in brown wrinkly beans, similar in texture to fried beans, but with less oil.

                      3. paulj Mar 24, 2013 08:27 PM

                        I'm more used to the name 'dry fried green beans'


                        6 Replies
                        1. re: paulj
                          ItalianNana Mar 24, 2013 10:36 PM


                          Those are outstanding instructions and pictures. I'm seeing the pattern in these recipes, lots of common ingredients. And this recipe says it can be done with common green beans, haricot verts or the long Chinese bean!

                          1. re: paulj
                            madeliner Sep 23, 2013 12:56 PM

                            I tried this one, the dark soy turned the green beans black! ick

                            1. re: madeliner
                              boogiebaby Sep 23, 2013 01:33 PM

                              One tablespoon of dark soy shouldn't turn the dish black. I make a similar dish but it calls for 2 tbsp. dark soy. It'll make it a little dark, but not black. Are you sure you used the watery dark soy and not the thick molasses kind?

                              1. re: boogiebaby
                                madeliner Sep 23, 2013 02:01 PM

                                The molasses kind, didn't know there was a dark soy that wasn't like that, can you maybe give me a brand?

                                I'll try it again with the pearl river bridge regular soy for now :)
                                (that stuff is yummy!)

                                1. re: madeliner
                                  boogiebaby Sep 23, 2013 05:06 PM

                                  Pearl River Bridge make a dark soy sauce. Same type of bottle as the "regular" one that says light soy sauce. I use PRB for my light and dark soys.

                                  1. re: boogiebaby
                                    madeliner Sep 24, 2013 01:57 PM

                                    Thanks I'll look for it :)

                          2. alkapal Mar 25, 2013 06:29 AM

                            here is a "dry-fried" string beans recipe from yi reservation (who is a chowhound here, i believe). it has the technique fourunder references, and step by step with photos: http://yireservation.com/recipes/dry-...

                            "Known for its great flavor and outstanding texture, Dry-Fried String Beans is arguably one of most well known Chinese string bean dishes served in virtually every Chinese restaurant ranging from takeout joints to high end places.

                            Traditionally, the string beans are first deep fried to seal the natural flavor. Then they are cooked using a special technique called dry-frying (乾煸) – a frying technique that involves high heat and little to no liquid. The technique is the key behind that famous slightly crispy outside but soft inside texture."

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: alkapal
                              ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 07:32 AM


                              I just spent a whole hour wandering around yireservation's blog. The bean recipe looks really good and I would deep fry them too! The first time I make a recipe I don't fiddle with it too much. Thank you for a great resource.

                              1. re: ItalianNana
                                alkapal Mar 25, 2013 07:34 AM

                                you are welcome. it IS a great blog indeed.

                            2. Breadcrumbs Mar 25, 2013 08:40 AM

                              Here are two more recipes that I've made and we've enjoyed:

                              This one uses dried shrimp vs pork:


                              This one uses pork:


                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 09:13 AM

                                The picture on the first link is gorgeous but man that's a lot of whole chilies. I'm assuming these are the small, dried, red chilies in my supermarket. It seems they would be leathery in addition to being scorching hot, but there is a lot of detail and technique that is very helpful. And several photos of ingredients that are always nice in ethnic dishes. Thank you so much. Haven't checked the 2nd one out yet.

                                1. re: ItalianNana
                                  chefj Mar 25, 2013 09:21 AM

                                  They way that the Chilis are used in the dish does not add a lot of heat just a toasted chili flavor.

                                  1. re: chefj
                                    ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 09:40 AM

                                    That would be great. I do like heat, but thought it looked REALLY hot. Are these the ones they call bird chilies? We have very little Asian influence in my community. There are, however, lots of Mexican products available. There is always a bin of little, dried, red chilies in my supermarket. If these are a pepper more specific to Asian dishes I can get anything about 30 miles away.

                                    Edited to add: a little research shows that the dried, red chilies used here are probably called chiles de Arbol and are described as smoky but not too hot.

                                    1. re: ItalianNana
                                      chefj Mar 25, 2013 01:09 PM

                                      they are similar to Chili de Arbol but not the same.
                                      Tthey are often called "Long Facing Heaven Chilli" (there is also a short vari.) but have many other monikers and varieties are often used.

                                      1. re: chefj
                                        ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 04:30 PM


                                        I love the lyrical, descriptive names of things. I'm assuming that if I walk I to an Asian grocery market I will be able to find this pepper by sight if not name. Unless there are several small, dried, red chilies in which case I will just wing it...?

                                        1. re: ItalianNana
                                          chefj Mar 25, 2013 04:55 PM

                                          Most places have one kind of sm.dried Red Chili.

                                    2. re: chefj
                                      ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 09:53 AM

                                      I wound up adding an edit above that should have been addressed to you. Thanks for the info.

                                    3. re: ItalianNana
                                      Breadcrumbs Mar 25, 2013 09:47 AM

                                      I agree w chefj's response ItalianNana. Unless you break the chilis up as you stir-fry (not recommended) they stay in tact and add a toasty warmth to the dish. I personally eat around them though I do have some brave friends that eat them! I use 5 when I make this.

                                      The chilis should be dried vs fresh. My favourites for Asian dishes are Tien Tsin chilis and I purchase them when I visit the US. Penzeys and The Spice House (Chicago) carry them:


                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                        ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 04:33 PM


                                        Ah hah! I will just order from Penzey's. They have a shelf life of weeks?

                                  2. f
                                    foodieX2 Mar 25, 2013 02:57 PM

                                    For those interested I had been referring to the szchuen green bean recipe form Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet.

                                    I posted this (paraphrased) recipe on the other thread.

                                    Here you go! They are amazing. They are great both hot and cold. Very low cal too, so a good "fill you up" snack.

                                    6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
                                    2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger, peeled
                                    2 scallions
                                    1 Tbsp vegetable oil
                                    1 tsp hot red-pepper flakes
                                    1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
                                    1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (I've used balsamic in pinch and it works fine)
                                    1 pound green beans, tipped and tailed

                                    In a food processor finely chop the garlic, ginger and scallions. In a bowl large enough to hold the green beans, add the vegetable mixture with the oil and red pepper flakes. Cook on high for 3 minutes

                                    Take bowl out of oven and stir in the soy sauce and vinegar. Add green beans a handful at time, mixing well to distribute the sauce over the beans.

                                    Microwave on high, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring 3-4 times during the cooking time.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: foodieX2
                                      ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 04:08 PM


                                      Thanks for much!!!!

                                      1. re: foodieX2
                                        ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 04:36 PM


                                        I'm going to make these first as I have what I need. Will gather other ingredients and do a Szechuan green bean SMACK DOWN! :-D

                                        1. re: ItalianNana
                                          foodieX2 Mar 25, 2013 04:39 PM

                                          love it! Please take pics and post the results!

                                          It will be interesting to do the comparison as Kafka's recipe I am sure would be considered pedestrian or inauthentic to those who strive for authenticity in their food/cuisine. I am sure those other recipes are the "real deal" and I would love to know how they compare. I always feel like I should put szechuan in quotation marks, or call them szechuan inspired when I give people the recipe but heck, it's not my recipe so I don't. <grin>

                                          1. re: foodieX2
                                            ItalianNana Mar 26, 2013 11:00 AM

                                            I am always interested, even if only intellectually, on "authentic" versions of dishes and techniques. But when the little hand is on the 4 I'll happily go for "in the style of" or the "flavors of. The use of the term authentic is really subjective when it comes to regional differences in Mexican and American dishes and I've seen loud arguments between people claiming to know the "real" authentic way. No doubt the microwave method is not how the Chinese do it. But I'd love an easy tasty version of all recipes. I'll get back to you about my results!

                                            1. re: ItalianNana
                                              paulj Mar 26, 2013 11:26 AM

                                              Chinese never use microwaves, do they?

                                              1. re: paulj
                                                foodieX2 Mar 26, 2013 11:34 AM

                                                Please! That is not what she is saying. She, and I, were saying that we doubt that a truly authentic szchuan recipe most likely was not developed with a microwave. She was not saying that Asian people do not make them in the microwave.

                                                I can also just hear the screams of injustice if I said I found this great Thai (or Italian or Mexican or Indian or whatever) place that makes the most authentic food I ever had and they do it all in the microwave! People would be screaming ( or howling with laughter.

                                                1. re: foodieX2
                                                  ipsedixit Mar 26, 2013 03:46 PM

                                                  I wonder how many cuisines, or even dishes for that matter, are authentically made in the microwave?

                                                  "Mon dieu!?? How can you use that contraption?? That monstrosity! Don't you know popcorn is supposed to be made in the microwave!! It's the authentic way; it's how they did it in the ooollld country!"

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    foodieX2 Mar 26, 2013 03:51 PM

                                                    exactly! LMAO

                                                    However based on the Recombinant Cuisine thread maybe there are some authentic midwestern/canadian dishes that were originated in the microwave.


                                                    1. re: foodieX2
                                                      paulj Mar 26, 2013 06:47 PM

                                                      Originated is one thing, adapted is another. If anyone can adapt a recipe to the microwave it is Kafka.

                                      2. Gio Mar 25, 2013 03:40 PM

                                        To my mind Fuchsia Dunlop has given us the quintessential Sichuan green bean recipe... This is adapted from her new cookbook Every Grain of Rice. She has a similar recipe in Land of Plenty but this one is wonderful:


                                        Here's the one from Land of Plenty...


                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Gio
                                          chefj Mar 25, 2013 03:57 PM

                                          Right with you!

                                          1. re: Gio
                                            ItalianNana Mar 25, 2013 04:18 PM


                                            Both sound interesting. I can imagine that the ingredients in the first one are very authentic.

                                            Thank you very much

                                            1. re: ItalianNana
                                              Gio Mar 26, 2013 03:16 PM

                                              IN... those recipes are "authentic" in so much as that was what FD was served in Sichuanese homes and restaurants, and what she learned to make in the culinary schools she attended in China. Of course anyone can take a recipe and short-cut it, tweak it, do whatever they want to it. But.... if someone really wants to know how to cook a traditional recipe as eaten in the country of choice, I would think that someone would go to the source. These recipes were not known until Dunlop brought them back to the UK.
                                              Just sayin'.

                                          2. Shrinkrap Mar 25, 2013 07:06 PM

                                            Does anyone know the one with the long beans, turmeric and grated unsweetened coconut? I think it was from Gourmet in the early 80's. But it was probably Indian, so...........NVM.

                                            Found it! I remember starting with a whole coconut in my studio apartment while still in school.The 1981 version had turmeric and asofoetida (sp).


                                            1. Shrinkrap Mar 25, 2013 07:24 PM


                                              1. Kris in Beijing Mar 26, 2013 11:49 AM

                                                First, I'd like to recognize that there are "good enough," "great," and "phenomenal" versions of all recipes for "ethnic foods."

                                                So, in the I-want-it-now-on-Tuesday-night category:

                                                Heat a skillet or wok.
                                                Throw in a 16oz bag of frozen green beans [ignore the horrified screams of purists mixed in with the squeaky sounds of flash evaporation].
                                                Turn your broiler on to HI.
                                                Sprinkle your beans with salt. Toss around.
                                                Turn off the heat to the pan, toss in one from each of the following:
                                                whole chili peppers--cayenne powder--ground red pepper
                                                sliced garlic clove--garlic powder--crushed garlic
                                                2tsp Sesame oil--1TBPS peanut oil--several liberal sprays of cooking spray

                                                Spread your mixture out on a baking sheet [preferably dark] and pop under the broiler until the beans blister.

                                                On the outside chance there are leftovers, you can reheat under the broiler.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                  ItalianNana Mar 26, 2013 04:35 PM

                                                  "Good enough"

                                                  You hit the nail on the head Kris in Beijing!
                                                  I think the same applies to people, places and things. At any rate, I appreciate everyone's input and plan to make several versions of Szecheun-inspired green beans, beginning tonight.

                                                  Stay tuned

                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                    tardigrade Mar 26, 2013 08:22 PM

                                                    My "pretty good" recipe is derived from the dry-braised string beans I've had a local restaurants:

                                                    Rinse and trim beans: I like yard-long, if I can find then, or standard green beans if not. If the former, cut into pieces that fit into the skillet
                                                    Heat skillet; add oil and crushed red pepper flakes and get hot
                                                    Add beans, try to avoid flying oil droplets, and let sit for 30 seconds or so. Then stir to move them around, cook until most of them have black spots.

                                                    Leftovers have never been a problem. I've had them with ground pork and pepper sauces, but for a quick side dish they'll do.

                                                  2. i
                                                    ItalianNana Mar 26, 2013 08:57 PM

                                                    OK, this was an interesting nite. I got some lovely green beans and bought five dried peppers. Got ready to organize and I couldn't find those #!?* peppers to save my life. Since I wound up just winging the dish after all the great ideas and recipes, I used crushed red pepper flakes. The dish wasn't as pretty as some I've seen, but it was really good. I wound up frying the beans in peanut oil for a couple of minutes just til the wrinkled. I drained and salted them. DH walked by and snagged a couple and said they were done about right. This is my "good enough" version then.

                                                    I used the ingredient list provided by foodieX2 and added a little sesame oil. Onions, garlic, ginger in 1T peanut oil. Then pepper flakes and then beans. Stirred til heated thru and poured combined remaining ingredients. Disappointed that they looked boring I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on them. Now that I sort of know what I've been missing, next time it's the microwave version, then a full on dry roasted one with the peppers and a little pickled veggie too. Oh, I ordered the Szecheun peppercorns too! I was thrilled with my first attempt. Here's a shot of my naked wrinkled beans and another of the dish. Thank you all so very much!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ItalianNana
                                                      Violatp Mar 27, 2013 01:46 PM

                                                      Awesome! You winged it and came up with something that tasted great. What more do you need? :-)

                                                      1. re: Violatp
                                                        ItalianNana Mar 28, 2013 11:35 AM


                                                        Exactly! I am delighted and encouraged to try more of the recommended recipes and methods. This, more than any other approach, gives me information and choices to make a brand new dish without needless worry and with more confidence! Thanks to all who so generously give time and again on CH.

                                                    2. t
                                                      tastesgoodwhatisit Mar 26, 2013 10:25 PM

                                                      The second is closest, but you're missing the Sichuan peppercorns, which add spice, but in a very different way from chili flakes, and the recipe I use calls for Chinese long beans, which I find are thicker and firmer than usual green beans.

                                                      1. paulj Mar 28, 2013 07:54 PM

                                                        new recipe for dry-fried green beans from Serious Eats.

                                                        " Diana Kuan's dry-fried green beans in The Chinese Takeout Cookbook are less embellished than versions seen at Chinese restaurants; she keeps things simple by skipping the ground pork and preserved vegetable that are often included. Instead, the beans are bolstered by minced and browned fresh shiitakes and the requisite Sichuan pepper, chili bean sauce, and dried red chiles."

                                                        1. j
                                                          JeremyEG Sep 23, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                          Yum. We got to take the foodie trip of a lifetime through the Sichuan Province and took some classes along the way. I loved the green bean dishes in all their variations. I did find that almost all of them had some stir fried pork. Also, almost always they were deep fried first to get the skin to blister but I've made them at home without that step and there still plenty tasty. Enjoy!

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