Dry fried spicy beans recipe

Posted on January 8, 2013

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I know it’s been hot outside and you don’t really want to turn on the stove, least of all firing up a wok. But beans are currently in season. Sweet sweet green beans that I so adore, and dry fried beans is the absolute house favourite. In fact, it’s pretty much the only way I serve beans. If I present beans in any other way, the comment is always the same: “I like the dry fried beans more”.

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My recipe is based loosely on the one by Diana Kuan from Appeptite for China. The difference is that I use less ingredients, omitting her use of preserved vegetable and sichuan peppercorns and I use more ginger. The flavour profile has changed as a result, with my dish having less of a ‘sichuan’ flavour but with a bit more freshness from the extra ginger. The ratio of garlic to ginger you use in the recipe isn’t critical, I usually just make do with whatever quantities I have on hand and feel like at the time. I do usually use dried chillies, however I ran out of them when I made the dish for this post. Don’t you just love Chinese cooking for its blase approach towards measurement?

The key to this recipe is cooking the beans twice. The first time shallow fried by itself, then stir fried with the rest of the ingredients. As you will be adding the beans to hot oil, make sure that your beans are dry, otherwise it will cause quite violent spitting. It might seem like quite a bit of effort, but seriously this is the best way to prepare beans. In fact to many Chinese cooks, the initial blanch in hot oil is the only way to prepare beans. By mimicking deep frying of the beans, you get perfectly cooked beans that retains its sweetness and most importantly, still has some bite left without any squeakiness (a squeaky bean is an undercooked bean, and my pet hate). These beans are so good, I could even eat them on their own after the initial cook. I believe that’s why the ratio of ingredients doesn’t really matter all the much, when the star feature is cooked so well, everything else is just peripheral to the central taste. (Apologies in advance for not having a great photo of the finished product, I er…kinda forgot to take the picture until half the dish disappeared!)

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This recipe has quite an intense flavour in any case. It’s best served with steamed rice, as on its own it can be a touch on the salty/spicy side. There isn’t really any protein in this dish, well nothing of substance to a meat eater anyway. The dried shrimp is used largely for its salt content and texture, you could leave it out if serving vegetarians/vegans (add a bit of salt to the recipe in this case). Conversely, you could add mince pork if you wanted to incorporate some protein (again salt content and chilli will need to be adjusted for this). Dried shrimp can be found prepackaged in Asian grocers or you can even buy it by weight in some Asian markets.

RECIPE – Dry fried spicy beans (serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal)

Ingredients:

  • ~200g green beans trimmed, chopped into ~5cm pieces, washed and dried very thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup of oil (choose an oil with a high smoke point; olive oil is not suitable)
  • 6 dried chillies (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried shrimp (optional, you may need to add a touch of salt if not using them)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chilli bean paste

P1040296Method:

  1. In a wok, heat 1/4 cup of oil on medium to high heat until smoking. Swirl oil to coat sides of wok. Add green beans and continually stir beans in hot oil until the skin has blistered (caution: ensure your beans are dry before adding them to the hot oil). You will be able to see blisters forming and you will feel more friction as you are stirring; this will take at least 5 minutes. Once the skin has blistered, turn off the heat and remove beans from wok to drain on paper towels.
  2. Remove most of the residual oil from the wok, leaving about 1/2 tablespoon. Reheat wok on medium heat and add dried chillies, ginger, garlic and dried shrimp. Stir fry until fragrant.
  3. Return beans into the wok, add sugar and chilli bean paste. Stir until well mixed, check seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  4. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

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