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Sweet & Spicy Szechuan Green Beans

I love the look of a binful of green beans at the market, and like to dive my hand in and grab a bunch, but once I get them home, I find them more or less uninspiring. (A metaphor for so many things, no?) They wind up sitting in the bottom of my crisper (a misnomer if ever there was one) until they start to develop little white fuzzy bits. And oh, the guilt.

I do love their soft, pale smoothness and elegant green bean tips. I don’t know who started to trim both ends, rendering them reminiscent of canned green beans (which I sometimes call into service for marinated bean salads, but not much else). I encourage anyone in charge of trimming green beans to slice off stem ends only. Bonus: it’s half the work.

So I may not have mentioned the fact that I’m on this TV show that’s apparently still in reruns (I don’t watch it – I know what happens) – those of you who have been around since the beginning (eek! let’s not count years) may remember back when I was actually taping it and posting here too. (You may find it weird that I have never ever even visited the show’s website, and just googled it now so I could add the link. Is that weird? I think actually it is. Maybe it’s because I’m overstyled and made up and dressed the way I mostly wouldn’t when left to my own devices. Or something.)

The point is, Ned made some green beans on the show using a recipe they used at the restaurant he cheffed at at the time, and every few months someone emails me asking for the recipe, which is apparently not on the website. And I don’t have it, and can’t recall what went into it, but it sounds delicious and every once in awhile that seed is replanted. And so often when I see green beans I wish I could turn them into Szechuan green beans, and the other day I just decided to figure it out.

And I’m glad I did. Damn, I could eat these every day. I might, for the summer at least. You get a heavy pan nice and hot with some oil – anything neutral, plus a drizzle of sesame oil – then toss in fresh beans. Cook them until they start to shrivel a bit and turn golden.

Add some garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sriracha – I eyeballed each – and there you have it: sweet, salty, spicy + ginger and garlic. (Sliced garlic doesn’t burn as quickly as minced does.)

Eat with your fingers, with a friend who stops by and you just sit down for an eversoquick glass of wine. Next time, I may make this chicken to go with them.

Szechuan Green Beans

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May 31, 2012

  • Makes: Serves 4.

Ingredients

1/2 lb (ish? a small bunch) green beans, stem ends trimmed

canola or mild olive oil, for cooking

sesame oil, for cooking (optional)

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

3-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. sugar

1 small squirt sriracha (chile paste)

toasted sesame seeds (totally optional)

Directions

1Set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil (I use canola) and sesame oil. Add the beans and cook until they start to turn golden. Add the ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, sugar and sriracha (as much as you dare) and cook for a few more minutes, tossing them around in the pan, until the garlic is golden and the beans are deeper golden and sticky.

2If you like, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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22 comments on “Sweet & Spicy Szechuan Green Beans

  1. Sarah Anne
    May 31, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I LOVE that you did this in a cast iron pan! I’m always scared to do anything ‘saucy’ in my cast iron. Any tips for cleaning afterwards? Love the simplicity. My beans always seem to do the same in my ‘crisper’.

  2. Cathy N
    May 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I feel the same way you do about green beans – so fun to delve into at the market, buy a big bagful and then… thanks for a great sounding recipe to get them out of my fridge!

  3. Cathy N
    May 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

    … Oh and I use my cast iron frying pan so much that it now lives on the back of the stove. (Did I tell you that I also have a full size cast iron frying pan on our sailboat? I don’t care how much room it takes up – it is an essential!).

  4. Vivian
    May 31, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Beans are really nice in the store right now but this recipe will be even better with the fresh crop from the garden in a few weeks. I agree about their cute little curly ends…leave ’em on.

  5. Jen
    May 31, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Green beans are a kind of commitment aren’t they, you have to use them up quickly. But now with this great recipe, I think I am up to committing.

    Thanks, might just make them tonight.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  6. Gemma
    May 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I checked out the link, Julie, and oh my gosh- you look fabulous! You are positively radiant!

    Oh, and this recipe looks great too 🙂

  7. Jen
    May 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Haha I have exactly the same problem. They sit in my fridge and sometimes I forget about them until they are no longer edible. Major guilt trip…

  8. gwendolyn
    May 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    As the friend lucky enough to have tried them, I have to say these were so. Damn. Good.

    I’m making these this weekend.

    And (not shameless self-promo, I swear), for your next round of green beans, may I suggest these?
    http://www.patentandthepantry.com/2008/08/26/beans-with-caramelized-onions/

    Or these:
    http://www.patentandthepantry.com/2008/06/04/green-beans-with-garlic/
    (And that one complete with horrifying early-blog-days photography.)

  9. Barb
    May 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Another good recipe is one of Canadian Living’s. Ground Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry. Thanks for the reminder. 😉

  10. Joni
    May 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I am so going to try this! I’ve had szechuan green beans in a couple of restaurants and I’ve been trying to perfect them for years (with no luck).

  11. Fareen
    June 1, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Hey Julie! I tried this recipe today but with portobello mushrooms. It was so good!

  12. Laurie from Burnaby
    June 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This looks excellent. Thank you for the reminder to use up the beans in my garden when they’re ready. I love this!

  13. Carrie
    June 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    This was *fabulous* with sugar snap peas instead of green beans (that’s what we had from the CSA this week). (My husband just said, “LOVE the peas!”) 🙂 Joining the long list of DWJ classics that we have in our regular repertoire.

  14. Jeri
    June 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I always start out cutting just the stem end, but about halfway through I get lazy and give up lining them up in the same direction. That’s when they just go in a big pile and both ends get cut off. That’s my excuse anyway.

  15. Shaun
    June 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I love the days when the recipe in your blog post aligns exactly with the contents of my fridge. Szechuan green beans coming up for dinner tonight chez moi! Thanks, Julie.

  16. Katie
    June 4, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Yum! I *love* spicy green beans, and your suggestion of eating them with your fingers and a glass of wine? Amazing! I imagine a nice cold crisp glass of white would go perfectly with these. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Robyn
    July 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    in case there’s any doubt…these are AMAZING! such a delicious way to violate some healthy fresh green beans!

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