Be Nice to Your Beans
What are blue lake beans? They are a stringless varietal of beans developed in the early 1900s in the Blue Lake District near Ukiah, CA. They are prized for their tenderness and crunch.
Green beans with strings that need to be pulled off are not found so much anymore. Most commercial beans now just need to have the top snipped off.
The main rival to Blue Lake beans in the market now is probably haricot vert. Those are much thinner, shorter, and slightly more delicate. Stick to Blue Lake green beans for affordability.
How are green beans blistered?
The hole in the wall Chinese restaurant this recipe is inspired by deep fries the green beans. We get a similar effect here by pan frying the green beans in a thin layer of oil.
It is best to work in batches and not stack the beans on top of each other in the pan.
This technique is often referred to as “dry-fried” as an alternative to deep-fried. To each her own, whether you care to heat up a whole pot of oil or a thin layer.
Be sure to dry the green beans well after washing. They will sizzle and pop in the pan even more if there is excess moisture on them. Use a deep pot such as a Dutch oven, if you prefer to limit grease splattering on your stove top.
Once the beans are blistered, set them aside. It is time to “blacken.”
How are green beans “blackened”?
“Blackened” is the Southern cooking technique of coating protein in spices and frying it in butter until it turns almost black in color. Here the Chinese fermented black bean is used.
They are not black beans per se. They are soybeans that have been salted and fermented.
They have a chalky, creamy texture, almost like chocolate and add richness to a dish, a bit like parmesan cheese.
These black beans are used in a number of Chinese stir-frys, especially in Sichuan cooking. Since they are heavily salted, you will only need to add additional salt to taste.
Blister & Sauté to Blacken
After the green beans have been blistered, it is time to blacken.
Saute minced ginger and black beans in a bit of oil. Add the blistered black beans back to the pan to combine and just heat the beans through. It will only take a couple minutes.
A pinch of sugar is used to round out the sweetness. Add additional salt to taste if needed.
It is not quite a green bean casserole, but it definitely has more flavor than steamed or boiled green beans if you have the time and effort to spare.
Blistered & Blackened Green Beans
- 1/4 c oil
- 1 lb green beans stems removed
- 2 Tb Chinese fermented black beans minced
- 1 Tb ginger minced
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- Heat oil to medium high heat in a large saute pan. Add an even layer of green beans and fry for 1-2 minutes until the skins are blistered and slightly wrinkled. Remove from pan and set aside on a separate pan. Keep frying green beans in a single layer until all the beans are fried. Add additional oil to the pan as needed.
- Heat 1 Tb oil to medium heat, using the same pan the beans were fried in. Add black beans and ginger and stir fry for about 1 minute.
- Return blistered green beans to the pan. Season with sugar and salt to taste. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until beans are heated through.
Do you love stir fried green beans? Please spread the Asian ♥ and share!