The Book Vegetables

156. Dry-Cooked String Beans p.523

I couldn’t find a recipe for this one online.

I was in a frying mood the night I made these beans and the onion rings. The combination of a fried appetizer, and a fried main course was just a little too much. This stir fry was more than greasy enough all by itself.

In this dish trimmed green beans are deep fried in a wok for 30 seconds, then drained. You then drain off most of the oil, and build a stir fry starting with garlic, red pepper flakes, and ginger, then add ground pork. Once the pork is browned the beans go back in to reheat. A mixture of sugar, salt, soy sauce, sake, and sesame oil is then poured over top along with a handful of scallion greens and stirred to coat. Put this on a bed of sticky rice and you’ve got dinner.

The stir fry itself was totally delicious, it was an excellent balance of ingredients, just spicy enough, and wonderfully complex and arromatic. However, the stir fried beans were a bit weird and greasy. I trimmed the ends of the beans, so there was an open tube down the middle of them. Some of those tubes filled with oil during frying, and made the dish much greasier than I would have liked. It’s possible that my oil temperature dropped too far, and the pressure of escaping steam wasn’t enough to keep the oil out. If so, more oil, or smaller batches of beans would have taken care of the problem. The recipe says that the point of the deep frying is to lock in the coulour of the beans, but blanching, and shocking them would have done the same thing. The exterior of the beans took on a funny wrinkled texture, but they remained firm and crisp, and nicely green.

I’d happily make an adapted version of this recipe, but I think the deep fried green beans are better left behind. There are lots of recipes for dry-cooked beans out there, so I’ll presume it’s a well respected technique, and suggesting that they kind of suck is probably insulting someone’s Grandmother’s cooking, but they just weren’t my bag. The rest of the dish was excellent, and simply replacing the frying for a blanching would probably solve my only criticism of the recipe. If it had been less oily, it would have earned 4.5 mushrooms, but as it is, I can’t give it more than three.


I'm a graduate student in Montreal. I spend most of my time studying drug addiction using brain imaging techniques. I'm also a foodie, exploring the culinary world both in and out of my kitchen.

7 replies on “156. Dry-Cooked String Beans p.523”

I totally agree about this recipe! The deep-frying seemed senseless and made the whole dish too greasy. If the reason, as The Book suggests, is just to lock in color, it is certainly not worth it. But I had the same impression you did: if you ignored the oiliness, the flavor of the dish was amazing!

In a book of mostly fatty dishes, you’d think they’d shy away from deep-frying just for the sake of colour, but I guess they are following the old adage of ‘everything is better fried,’ just like ‘everything tastes better with bacon.’ Balanced – the book is not.

Other than the oil slick, it was very very good. I served it with lots of rice to absorb some of the greasiness, and it tasted great. With enough rice it wasn’t any oilier than an average fried rice dish. I was hoping a three would reflect that it has some flaws, but is definitely worth saving.

I think not trimming the beans could have helped with the greasiness, but then you’d have to eat untrimmed beans. I guess you could fry them, then trim them. I’d just skip the frying step all together, and stir fry the beans along with everything else.

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