First attempt at fried green beans

Now I should have warned you all that, much as I love food, I don’t pretend to be a sophisticated cook and results can be little hit and miss. All the same my first attempt at Shan’s fried green beans ended up tasting very good. I just need to get a bit better at judging the temperature of the oil in the wok so the peppers don’t burn.
I lined up my sichuan peppers, garlic and that dried leafy vegetable “men gan cai” beforehand
I actually added a small handful of the “mei gan cai” with the garlic and chilli but Shan tells me I would have been better to wash the dry leaves a bit, squeeze the water out and fry them with the minced pork.
I blanched the beans for one minute before adding them to the wok.
And the end result looked like this:
I served them with Torta Di Patate – a sour cream potato bake with aubergines and taleggio from a recipe by Gino d’Acampo and the unusual combination of Chinese and Italian recipes made for a lovely, filling Monday night supper.
If you’d like to try a hand at this dish yourself, have a look at Shan’s Fried Green Beans Recipe. Please leave a comment too, I’d love to hear how you got on!
But before you do so take a look at what I learned about a better way to cook these beans inside the Kitchen of the China Sichuan

Finding the secret ingredients for fried green beans

Fried green beans was one of our favourite side dishes in Beijing. It is a staple in Chinese homestyle cooking but, done well, it’s delicious. There were a few ingredients I needed to go looking for in order to try out this recipe back here in Ireland.
Sichuan peppers were easy – Shan had brought a supply with her when she visited us at Christmas. The distinctive numbing sensation on the tongue and lips is not easily mistaken for anything else.
This is what they look like:
The dry leafy vegetable that she didn’t think I could find in Ireland was trickier to identify So I asked Shan to text me the pin yin and Chinese Characters for the vegetable in question. It’s called “mei gan cai” or 梅干菜. I took myself off with that information to the Asia Market in Drury St. Dublin. which is a great source of all manner of spices and sauces as well as offering great value in fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.
Through a process of elimination using photos exchanged via iMessage,we identified this as the correct product:
I’m still not sure what this is so any suggestions would be welcome. Could it be a type of dried mustard leaf?

Fried green beans two ways

Shan’s version of Sichuan fried green bean with minced pork

  • 250g – 350g green beans
  • Dried chilli – 1 or 2 pieces depending how spicy you want it to be
  • 50g minced pork
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Sichuan pepper
  • Mei Gan Cai – a dried mustard leaf – see: Finding the Secret Ingredients or Sichuanese ya cai
  • A few cloves of garlic again you can put more if you like it garlicy


  1. Wash beans and use your hand to break them into 1 inch long pieces.
  2. Boil water in a small pot if you wish to have a healthier dish.
  3. Chop garlic and dried chilli into fine pieces.

Green beans at stage 2 of cooking


  1. Pork: put oil in wok and throw 1 tsp of Sichuan pepper in it, when it gets hot and you can smell the pepper then you can use a spade to take out the pepper if you don’t want to eat it accidently later. I usually take the wok to the sink and shovel them out and deal with it later. Then put minced pork in, fry till they are cooked, put a pinch of sugar and a small amount of soy sauce. When the meat looks golden brown, take the pork out and wash the wok and dry it.
  2. Beans: put oil in wok, put chopped chilli and garlic in, when the oil gets hot, basically garlic starts to look brown, throw beans in (healthier version would be that beans are already boiled in the pot and drained, typically 1 minute in the boiling water is enough, the colour of green starts to look crispy green), fry the beans till it gets brown and bits of it almost look like it’s burnt then the beans are ready, see picture below.*
  3. Final step: put cooked pork in and then add 2 table spoon of soy sauce, and some salt, fry a minute or two then it’s ready. I usually just put one in my mouth and check the flavour and if it’s cooked.

The picture below shows the finished dish and you will not have the really dark bits if the dry leafy vegetable is missing.

Green beans with Mei Can Gai added

Take a look at my first attempt to cook this delicious recipe.
*Note: I later learned inside the kitchen of the China Sichuan that the easiest way to get the bubbly brown skin on the green beans is to deep-fry them very quickly in oil in the wok.
Sichuan fried green beans – vegetarian version
Sichuan fried green beans – vegetarian style


  • 250g – 350g green beans
  • Dried chilli – 4 to 6 pieces depending how spicy you want it to be (my tastes are getting spicier!)
  • 2 spring onions, white parts only
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Piece of ginger, about 3 cms
  • Soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Tianjn preserved vegetable
  • Sichuan pepper
  • Salt
  • Sesame oil


  1. Wash beans and use your hand to break them into 1 inch long pieces.
  2. Boil water in a small pot and blanch the beans for about a minute. Drain well.
  3. Finely slice the spring onion whites, garlic and ginger.


  1. Heat wok over a high heat, add oil (about 2 tbs), then sizzle the Sichuan pepper and chillies briefly until they begin to darken and release the gorgeous smells.
  2. Add the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few moments to release their fragrance.
  3. Add the Tianjin preserved vegetable and stir briefly.
  4. Add the blanched beans and stir fry for a minute or two to coat in the spicy oil and brown slightly.
  5. Stir in about a tsp of sesame oil and serve.

Absolutely delicious. I love both versions of this dish. The one with pork makes a simple supper on its own. The vegetarian version is a great side dish for pork or other meats.
If any of the ingredients in this post are unfamiliar check out Chinese Kitchen Essentials elsewhere on this blog.