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Green Bean Stir Fry

Green beans, abundant all summer and into the fall, too often get cast in the overlooked side dish role – see also the Thanksgiving mainstay green bean casserole, which many consider bland and boring. Unless the green beans happen to be undercooked, in which case the unpleasant crunch turns eaters against green beans. Which is too bad, because handled properly, green beans are lovely, and you do not have to stick to just steaming them or hiding them in a casserole. Try a stir fry. Basic green bean stir fry ingredients:

  • About one pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 – 4 scallions (depending on size), sliced
  • About 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • For the sauce: Soy sauce (or Tamari), mirin, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sambal oelek

The green beans: Prepare the green beans by pre-cooking them in boiling water (parboiling) or steaming them, until just tender. You may want to cut longer beans in half so they are easier to handle. To see if they are ready, taste one for tenderness. You don’t want the green bean to be too soft, there should still be a slight crunch and resistance when you bite it. Once the beans are ready, drain them and assemble all the other components of your stir fry. The sauce: Make your own sauce for the stir fry. In this case, I mixed together some soy sauce, mirin, a touch of rice vinegar, a few drops of fish sauce, and sambal oelek (a hot sauce type condiment). The sauce is flexible; you can use Tamari instead of soy sauce, or try Worcester sauce. You’ll need about half a cup of sauce for the beans, so experiment with the ratios of ingredients until you have a combination you like. If you’re unsure about the measurements, browse recipe sites for ideas on what to mix together, and see what tastes appeal to you. There are a lot of options.Just be sure you have the sauce ready before you start heating the pan. Stir fry moves fast, and you need to have everything ready to go once you start. The stir fry: In a wok or large heavy pan, heat a neutral oil (safflower or the like), enough to coat the pan (about 1 Tbs, usually). Add the sliced scallions to the hot pan and let them get almost browned, while stirring (it’s a stir fry, after all). If you have it, you could add some fresh minced ginger here as well. After a few minutes, add the green beans. Keep stirring, and let the green beans gain a brown crisp. Don’t be afraid to keep the heat on high, as long as you keep things moving. Once the green beans are well browned, pour the sauce over you stir-fry veggies and mix everything together as you finally turn the heat down. Throw in a handful of cashews at the end. Toss together, turn off the heat, and serve your stir fry over rice or couscous.

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