Sunday, January 23, 2011

Experiments with Sichuanese flavors: Garlic Chili Green Beans

So, I met a friend for lunch and we faced the usual issue: I don't like vegetables. I really don't. I make an exception for a few, but by and large, I don't like veggies, unless they are raw. Even then, I'm picky. So when my friends make lunch, I always eat enough to be polite, and avoid the vegetables, but today I found my solution. I volunteered to cook green beans, a personal favorite. Now, most of my Tibetan friends here have never had green beans, so I had to improvise a good recipe. So the following is an experiment with Sichuanese flavors, everyone liked it and polished them off!


Green beans (1 kilo)
Garlic (4 large cloves)
Scallions (one batch, around 6 bunches)
Soy Sauce to taste
Huajiao (sichuan peppercorn)

OR, you can replace the 3 proceeding items with 1 TBS of Chongqing hot pot paste

Cooking oil OR a nice stock or broth

First, for those of you unfamiliar with Chongqing hotpot (huoguo) paste
mmmm, hot pot!

Basically, its a mix of all the spices you would use in a sichuan style hot pot. Chilis, oil, huajiao, ginger, garlic, star anise, everything. It's great in hot pot, and a little bit of it makes a great seasoning on just about anything else. We didn't have ginger or red chilis today, so I just used a table spoon of this.

OK, so start by snapping the ends off your green beans.

Crush and chop the garlic finely. The scallions should be in larger peices.

Now, in a pan or wok, heat up some of your stock or oil. We used about a cup of the broth left over from cooking chicken today. It was delicious. A warning about using oil, you're going to be putting chilis into this, so make sure you do it so that you don't smoke out your house causing everyone's lungs to shut down. I've done it. My parents were very displeased.

When the stock is pretty hot, add the garlic, hot pot spice and some soy sauce. Stir until the hot pot spice is broken up or dissolved. Then throw in your green beans and stir until they are well coated with spices and garlic.

You can pour some soy sauce on top now if you want it a bit saltier.

At this point, throw in half of your scallions, continue stirring.

Make sure there is enough liquid at the bottom. You can add more stock or just plain water, but add soy sauce to adjust the taste if you put in water. Cover and steam until the beans are cooked as you like them. I like my beans crunchy and slightly underdone, but everyone has their own preference.

Alternately, if you are cooking in oil, just continue to stir-fry until they are as done as you like.

Finally, the final product! Salty, spicy, crunch, Sichuan style green beans!