Dry-Fried Green Beans

Dry-Fried Green Beans

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

10 minutes


4 people

A former coworker once scoffed at the idea that my dry-fried green beans could beat his broccoli salad at an office potluck party. Let’s just say that I left the office with an empty dish, and he didn’t. This recipe is Sichuanese in origin and involves blistering the green beans using a shallow frying method called gan bian, or “dry-frying.

Ya cai, the fermented stems of a type of Chinese mustard green, is traditionally used to season the beans. I omit this ingredient because it’s not widely available and because what is available isn’t always the best quality. You can leave out the pork to make this dish vegetarian.

Dry-fried green beans recipe and story by Hsiao-Ching Chou 2018. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Chinese Soul Food by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photography by Clare Barboza.


  • 3/4 lb green beans (haricot vests or regular)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 oz unseasoned ground pork or ground beef (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar


  • 1 Trim the green beans and cut them in half. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Set aside.
  • 2 Preheat a wok over medium-high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add ⅓ cup of the oil and heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or until it starts to shimmer. In batches, add the beans to the oil in a single layer. Quickly stir-fry the beans, gently swishing them around in the oil. The skins of the beans will start to blister. Once you see that most of the beans look slightly wrinkled but not necessarily browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the prepared paper towel-lined baking sheet to absorb the residual oil. Repeat with the remaining beans. Use a wad of paper towels to absorb any residual oil in the wok and brush away any charred pieces.
  • 3 Return the wok to the stove over high heat, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the pork and, using a spatula, break up the pork. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until brown and cooked through. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic, and stir and toss for a few seconds to combine. Add the soy sauce, water, and sugar, and stir to combine.
  • 4 Add the beans, and stir and toss for a few seconds to combine. If it doesn’t taste salty enough, add an additional splash of soy sauce, and stir to incorporate. Serve with steamed rice


15 Apr

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