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seasonal shifts

Recipe: chinese dry-cooked string beans

It’s the last day of spring and there is a winter weather advisory issued for our mountains until 6:00 this evening.

I am not complaining.

3-8 inches of fresh snow in addition to the 30+ feet in the backcountry is our reprieve for the zero (0, nada, nil) days of skiing we managed in March when so much glorious powder fell at the big ski resorts. We were busy, we were traveling, I got sick… We’re still busy, but we’re not traveling (at least not in June) and thankfully, we aren’t sick!


yes, still skiing

the lower alpine lakes are thawing



Yesterday was Father’s Day. On Mother’s Day you expect every brunch joint to be packed out the door. On Father’s Day, we brace ourselves for the onslaught of families who want to take Dad to the mountains for a hike or to burn things (I really do not understand the obsession of people from the flats who come up to our mountains to burn stuff). But this year, the campgrounds remain under snow in late June. The trails are under snow. Even the parking lots have a few feet of snow lingering about where cars would normally be. I like it like that, for obvious reasons…

putting the skins away after the climb up

the anticipation of skiing out makes my mouth water

wooo! jeremy gets his turns in (in june!)



Also, this is my 1001st post. 1000 is a nice round number, but it was a special post for my dad, so I didn’t want to detract from it. 1001 is a palindrome, which I love more than round numbers – so there. The only significance of my 1001st post is that I clearly never shut up.

String beans (green beans) are in the markets and they’re looking pretty good. I’ve been wanting to make Chinese dry-cooked string beans for a while, but it always goes to the bottom of the list because Jeremy has a slight allergy to string beans. They make his throat itchy. That’s a real shame because my mom cooks them up better than any one or any restaurant I know of. Oh well… more for me.


string beans

trimming the ends



I suppose the name “dry-cooked” refers to the fact that there isn’t much liquid used in the recipe. I found that a little confusing considering that the beans are essentially fried in oil – a lot of oil. But you don’t consume all of that oil, thank goodness. Aside from the beans, the other main ingredients are ground pork (this is optional), dried shrimp, and Sichuan preserved mustard green tsa tsai. The dried shrimp and preserved mustard greens you’ll most likely have to get at an Asian grocery store.

dried shrimp and sichuan preserved vegetable

cut the beans into 3-inch pieces (i just cut them in half)



If you make it with the pork and shrimp, I suggest purchasing the larger, meatier looking dried shrimp. The ones I’m using have a little coloring added to them, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but I was unable to find any that didn’t have coloring. That’s one of my biggest frustrations with Asian groceries. If you choose to make this a vegetarian dish, you can probably omit the pork and shrimp. It won’t be the same, but it will still be good. I mean, sampling the beans straight out of frying without any of the other flavors tasted pretty awesome to me (what DOESN’T taste awesome after being fried?).

chopped dried shrimp, ground pork, and chopped preserved mustard green

dropping the beans into the hot oil



A word of advice – wash and trim your beans first before any of the other prep. Then pat them as dry as you can before frying with a kitchen towel. It just reduces the spattering of hot oil and the chances of losing an eye. I’m still a chicken when it comes to frying things. I had to fry my string beans in two batches. Let them bubble about for a few minutes (I think 3-4 minutes for mine) until the skins become a little puckery, then fish them out. I really dislike overly oily vegetables, so I let mine drain for a few minutes in a colander. It’s okay if they aren’t hot anymore, because you’re going to cook them again.

the beans should be puckery, but not burned

add the sichuan vegetable and dried shrimp to the cooked pork



When the fragrant ingredients (pork, shrimp, preserved vegetable) are sautéed, add the beans into the pan. Stir fry the beans with the addition of some sugar, soy sauce, and a touch of water, until the liquid evaporates off. It won’t take long at all, so don’t wander off and go read a book or anything.

add the string beans

some sugar and soy sauce



When the beans are ready, remove them from heat and dish them up to serve hot. It’s a bit on the salty side, so these go particularly well with a bowl of steamed rice.

i ate them all myself and i’ll do it again



Chinese Dry-Cooked String Beans
[print recipe]
from Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su-Huei

1 lb string beans, washed, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 oz ground pork
2 tbsps dried shrimp, rehydrated and chopped fine
4 tbsps Sichuan preserved mustard greens, chopped fine
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsps water
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsps green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Heat the oil in a wok or medium saucepan on medium to medium-high flame. The oil is ready if a string bean begins to sizzle when placed in the oil. Add the string beans to the oil (I fried in two batches) and let fry for 3-4 minutes until the skins begin to pucker. Remove the beans from the oil and drain. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok or sauce pan (or if you’re me, I just took 1 tablespoon out and put it in a new sauté pan) and heat the pan on high. Stir-fry the pork until no longer pink, then add the shrimp and mustard greens. Stir for 30 seconds then add the string beans and the soy sauce, sugar, and water. Stir to mix everything together and let the liquid reduce completely. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame oil (I skip the sesame oil) and serve hot. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

27 nibbles at “seasonal shifts”

  1. Caterina B says:

    Hey, Jen, do you know that your blog “use real butter” is mentioned in the new issue of Sunset magazine?
    It’s part of an article about food in Boulder vs. Denver.

  2. Melissa says:

    “1001 is a palindrome, which I love more than round numbers.” :D

    I had this green bean dish at a restaurant here in January and LOOOOVED it. Thanks for posting a recipe. Srsly.

  3. Evan says:

    I totally forgot that tomorrow’s the first day of summer – this delicious post reminded me :)

  4. Kimberly says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe, Jen. This is one of my favorite dishes, and I’m stoked to know that I can make it at home!

  5. Lisa says:

    Congrats on the 1001th post.

    I am heading to Vancouver this week and this dish was on my list to eat. Maybe, I’ll eat something different and make this for breakfast instead.

  6. Kate @ Savour Fare says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes in our local Chinese restaurant in South Pas! I’ve made Jaden’s version with preserved radish (which was very good) but I like the meaty funky flavors from the pork and shrimp. Will be trying this soon.

  7. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says:

    Oh the string beans look sooo good!

    And I am anxiously awaiting email updates re F & L. The big questionaire was fun to fill out and I am so stoked about Boulder!

  8. la domestique says:

    Congrats on 1001 posts! My husband and I were “1 and done”. Lived in the mountains for 1 year and moved back down to the Boulder area. When we looked at the weather this weekend and saw snow for the mountains, we just silently shook our heads. That’s life up there! :) Crazy.

  9. Allie says:

    This looks FANTASTIC. I will certainly make it a summer must-cook. Also, I’m fairly sure your blog contributes to how badly I want to try skiing and may take a class this winter. yay!

  10. Heidi @ Food Doodles says:

    Happy one thousand and first post :D The green beans look fantastic. I always need inspiration for different ways to cook them. When I grow them in my garden I always get tons and even when I don’t I get tons from my mom :D

  11. Ann B says:

    And we are so glad that you “clearly never shut up” … your voice would be missed. Here’s to 1001 more … or however many you want to do!

  12. Kimberly says:

    Jen, I adore your writing style and the food on this blog (of course). I would read another 1001 posts!

  13. nicole says:

    nathan says you are his hero. we used to eat these at din tai fung in arcadia – and I could never replicate them at home. yummmyyy!!!!

  14. Alisa says:

    Yummy! these are my favourite – I call them lizard beans because that’s how they look to me after frying – although usually i have them with oil vingar and a bit of garlic – now want to try your seasoning!

    Carry on Cooking! Shooting! Blogging!

  15. Kristin says:

    Clearly we don’t WANT you to stop talking.

  16. cory says:

    congrats!!! i am hard pressed to think of much of ANYTHING i have done 1001 times, much less write 1001 interesting, fun, addictive, and informative posts! i love it!

    these beans look amazing…is the dried shrimp totally necessary? or could you finely chop fresh shrimp and sautee it in at the end? i am sure the dried is much more salty/potent/and a different flavor, but i agree with the added coloring, would rather not have it if at all possible.

  17. Nan says:

    We always order these beans when dining out — they are a hubby’s favorite! Now I will make them myself and my culinary stock will rise even higher! I love palindromes too — especially because I am one!;-)

  18. Dick S says:

    Jen, as usual a great post. I just the other day downloaded a dry fry string bean from Searious Eats. In case you haven’t dialed into that website, they have a blogger named Kenji who seems like a real complement to you. He does a lot of experimentation a la Alton Brown and will be a great resource now that Good Eats is going off Food Network.

  19. Dick S says:

    Oops! I meant “Serious”. Got to remember spell check.

  20. Diana Banana says:

    ooohhhh, so THAT’S how they get that wrinkly-crisp texture! i love doing green beans with garlic and a spoon of black bean sauce. i also used to “trim” the ends of beans one by one with my hands like my mom, but now i just grab a handful, line them up and align the ends with the edge of a chef’s knife, then lop off 8-10 bean ends at a time.

  21. Margie says:

    I echo Kristen’s words….We do NOT want you to stop talking. :)

    Enjoy that snow while you can, and send me some, will ya? ;)

  22. knitopia says:

    I, too, am a victim of oral allergy syndrome. Fortunately, I can eat green beans. I should buy some soon, because it’s been a while since I’ve had them.

  23. Shelley says:

    These sound yummy, cheap, and quick to make. I’ll give them a try this summer. Thanks!

  24. Gali says:

    Oh how jealous I am of the skiing opportunities!

  25. May - So Very Domestic says:

    Yum!! There is just something so comforting about trimming green beans – I love it. As usual the photos are amazing.

  26. jenyu says:

    Caterina B – wow!! Thank you so much for that heads up!

    Mel – yeah, girl! #fistbump

    Kate @ Savour Fare – yeah, I always liked that “funky” combination but wasn’t sure what it was exactly :)

    la domestique – that’s why I live here, I LOVE mountain weather!

    Allie – skiing is totally worth learning. TOTALLY.

    Heidi @ Food Doodles – I am insanely jealous of your green bean sources.

    Ann B – thank you! xo

    Kimberly – oh, you’re really very kind.

    nicole – my work here is done if I’m Nathan’s hero!! :)

    cory – the shrimp is optional, although you’re right – if you use fresh rather than dried shrimp, you won’t get that signature flavor (pungent?). There may be some without artificial coloring, if you live near a large city like LA, SF, or NY you may find them?

    Nan – :)

    Dick S – cool, thanks!

    Diana Banana – I sometimes chop the ends, but if I have time I will break them and let the bean dictate where it breaks :)

  27. Sichuan/Szechuan/!!! (part 2) | The Relatively Shitty Cook says:

    [...] am sitting here unable to finish (or start, actually) making my Sichuan dry-fried green beans because my shrimps have not finished rehydrating. I did not know they needed to rehydrate until I [...]

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