Sichuan ‘Dry-Fried’ Green Beans (Vegetarian) – Gan Bian Si Ji (Su)
The fun run I mentioned in my stir-fry runner bean post may be over, but we still have stacks of beans left over, meaning Fen has the choice of either eating healthy, or not at all. Alright, so the usual method of cooking Sichuan dry-fried green beans isn’t all that healthy (most restaurant deep-fry the beans), but this lighter vegetarian recipe is a healthier and fantastically tasty variation.
As with most recipes on this blog, Sichuan dry-fried green beans is a traditional Sichuanese recipe, although the dish is now popular throughout the whole of China, and indeed throughout Chinese restaurants and takeouts all over the world. The deep-fried version is an oily, delicious beast in its own right, but this healthy broiled option has gained plenty of momentum as an alternative, and is featured everywhere from Every Grain of Rice to Serious Eats.
Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans Cooking Tips
Instead of deep frying the beans, the trick is to blanch them for a couple of minutes until their skin is blistered and tender, yet they still have snappy insides. This is then combined with the chilli and peppercorn-infused oil (careful not to stir-fry the spices too long as they easily burn) and drizzled with sesame oil for a light, breezy dish that packs a tongue-tingling kick. Adding the ya cai or tian jin (preserved vegetables) is entirely optional, but I find the tian jin in particular adds a third competent to the dish and makes it even more utterly delicious.
I’ve used green beans in this recipe, but feel free to go wield with broad beans, runner beans, French beans, or whatever you like. Feel free to mix in some minced beef too if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous – I certainly will next time as I’m more than pushing my luck with feeding Fen so much veg!
- 350g Green Beans
- 6 dried chillis
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 spring onion whites
- The same amount of ginger
- 2 tbsp tianjin or ya cai
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- ½ tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Wash the beans, cut the tops and bottoms off, then cut in half
- Bring a panful of water to the boil, add some salt and 1 tbsp oil, then blanch the beans for a number of minutes until the skins are blistered and tender. Drain and shake dry
- Cut the dried chillies in half and shake out the seeds. Peel the ginger then slice finely. Slice the spring onion and garlic
- Add 2 tbsp oil to a heated pan and stir-fry the chillies and Sichuan pepper. Once sizzling, add the ginger, garlic and spring onion and stir-fry for a few moments longer. Add the ya cai/tianjin
- Add the beans and stir-fry further, stirring continuously until they are covered in the oil. Add the sesame oil, give another quick stir, then serve
Based on a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking