Fragrant, salty and pungent, dry fried green beans with Chinese olive vegetable is one of the best ways to serve green beans.
Today I’m sharing a very tasty stir-fry dish which, I believe, is the most delicious way to cook green beans. Fragrant, salty and pleasantly pungent, dry fried green beans (干煸四季豆) with Chinese olive vegetable combines the classic flavour of Sichuan food “Mala (麻辣, hot & numbing)” and the super aromatic taste of Chinese olive vegetable from Chaozhou cuisine. If you haven’t tried this classic dish, I’m pretty confident that you will fall in love with it at the first bite.
How to oven “dry” the green beans
The crucial part of making this dish is to “dry / dehydrate” the green beans before frying with other ingredients. In Chinese restaurants, it’s a common practice to deep fry green beans. I prefer to avoid deep-frying when other cooking methods can achieve the same result.
For this recipe, roasting the green beans in an oven is my favourite method. Not only does it require the least amount of oil, it also frees your hands and attention for preparing other dishes. For 350g /12oz of green beans, you will need only 1 tablespoon of oil. The process takes 12-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 220°C / 425°F (Fan 200°C / 400°F or Gas 7). The roasting time may vary depending on the performance of the oven and the size of the green beans. Observe closely and take out the beans as soon as they become lightly blistered and brown.
If you prefer deep frying, you will need an adequate amount of oil to immerse the beans completely. Add the beans when the oil is hot and fry them over a high heat. Then transfer them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to remove excess oil before going to the next step.
Chinese olive vegetable and its substitutes
In terms of flavouring, Chinese olive vegetable (橄榄菜) plays an important role in my dry fried green beans. A speciality of Chaozhou cuisine (潮州菜), it’s a dark green paste-like mixture of mustard green and Chinese olive (different from Mediterranean type) pickled in oil, soy sauce and other seasoning. With its unique umami, rich flavour, it’s a brilliant condiment for meat / vegetable stir-fry, fried rice, steamed egg or fish dishes.
Chinese olive vegetable (see image on the left) usually comes in jars which can be purchased in Chinese / Asian stores. When using, remove the olive pit that you might find in the jar. If the jar contains whole olives, simply chop the flesh into small pieces and discard the pit.
Don’t worry if you cannot get access to Chinese olive vegetable. You may replace it with other Chinese preserved vegetable / pickles. The dish will taste a little different but equally delicious. Choose one of the followings: Chinese preserved mustard green (Sui Mi Ya Cai, 碎米芽菜), Tianjin preserved vegetable (Dong Cai, 冬菜) or chopped Chinese pickled mustard root (Zha Cai, 榨菜). Please note that these substitutes contain a high level of salt, so you might need to adjust the salt in recipe.
You can make the dish vegetarian
Classic dry fried green beans calls for minced pork for extra flavour (Minced beef works too). However, if you wish to make it vegetarian, you can simply omit the meat. It will still taste fantastic (provided you don’t alter other spices and seasoning). Another alternative is to use Shiitake mushrooms, preferably the dried ones as they have a more intense taste. Soak the mushrooms beforehand and chop them small prior to cooking.
▼ VIDEO RECIPE
Thank you for reading my post. If you are looking for inspiration to cook authentic Sichuan dishes, have a look at the following recipes: