Saturday, November 14, 2015

Two-Step Spicy Green Beans

In 2009 I backpacked in China with my friend Rosie. When we arrived in Xi'an to see Emperor Qin Shi Huang's terracotta army, we found the city just as fascinating, complete with a beautiful Muslim quarter with mosques. The food in the Muslim quarter was spicier than anywhere else we went; Rosie could not even eat the green beans because they contained more chiles than beans! But we did like the flavor very much, enough to try and replicate it upon our return with just a tad less heat.

It turns out that the special flavor and texture of the beans requires a two-step process. The excellent resource Serious Eats explains that, in China, this comes from deep-frying the beans as Step 1. They suggest, instead, broiling the beans before tossing them with the aromatics. Alas, I don't have a broiler, so I tossed the beans in a very hot dry pan (no oil at all) until I charred them, and then tossed them with the remaining ingredients.

4 cups green beans
10 shiitake mushrooms
1 chile
2 tbsp chopped scallions
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

Trim edges off green beans. Heat a dry pan, and when it's very hot, toss beans in. Keep moving the beans in the pan until you can see some searing on all the beans. Remove from pan.

Add oil and thinly sliced chili to pan. Heat for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat and add scallions, ginger, garlic, and Bragg's. Cook for another two minutes. Add mushrooms and toss around until soft. Then add beans and toss a bit. Serve hot right away!

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