These spicy Szechuan-Style Green Beans will be the star of your vegetarian meal or complement your meat dish.
I didn’t know there was “101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die” until I met Jet Tila. Quite frankly, I can’t even name 30 Asian dishes by their proper name, let alone know how to make them. I didn’t even realize just by the nature of the title of Jet’s latest cookbook that he would challenge me to cook every recipe in his book.
I recently met Chef Jet Tila at a book-signing, media luncheon at Melissa’s Produce. He was funny, humble, informative and a great teacher.
For those of you who don’t know, Jet appears as a judge on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen as well as The Today Show, The Talk, and Chopped to name a few. Jet is also a chef, restaurant owner and creator of a frozen meal line. Now he adds cookbook author to his culinary arsenal after he was challenged to do so by Alton Brown.
For a fascinating read about how this LA kid got his culinary start, check out former LA Times food writer Barbara Hansen’s story about Jet on her blog Table Conversation.
Jet’s cookbook “101 Asian Dishes You need To Cook Before You Die” is easy to follow and uses ingredients that can be easily found. He is a natural-born teacher which makes learning the philosophy of Asian cooking easy. For example, I know “yum” means delicious, but I didn’t know it is actually a Thai word that translates to the perfect balance between spicy, sour, salty, sweet and savory.
Asian cooking considers all of the five flavors when making any dish. This answered my question as to why, for instance, Asian savory dishes often include sugar as it covers the sweet in the five flavors. I thought it was maybe a superstition thing like throwing salt over your left shoulder or done because Grandma always did it that way. LOL
Jet also explains, “Using authentic ingredients from the right country is half the authenticity battle! Always ask which country the dish is from because each one has its core ingredients.”
So here are the core ingredients to keep in mind.
Chinese – Oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and ginger.
Japanese – Dashi, light soy sauce (green label), dark soy sauce (red label), mirin, sake, and miso.
Korean – Soy sauce, gochujang, garlic and sesame oil.
Vietnamese – Fish sauce (nuoc mam), lemongrass, basil and hoisin sauce.
Chinese Chicken Salad – page 125
Szechuan-Style Green Beans page 35 (today’s recipe)
Cinnamon and Five Spice Easy Donuts – page 158
We were privileged to have Jet demonstrate two of his favorite dishes. The first one was Pineapple Fried Rice.
Jet advises when cooking with a wok, Mise en place (a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking) is key because everything cooks so quickly.
Using the pineapple as a bowl is what chefs call “high perception of value” because it looks bigger than it is, and fancier too!
The final product was beautiful and delicious.
His second demonstration was today’s recipe for Szechuan-Style Green Beans. The technique for the beans is called twice cooking. The Chinese flash-fry items to precook them then finish in a wok.
Think about it like blanching broccoli or peas just to take the raw flavor out of things and jumpstart the cooking process. Jet likes wok cooking and deep-frying in any high-temp low-flavor oil such as vegetable, corn, canola, grapeseed or soybean oil.
Note: If you don’t want to deep-fry your beans you can blanch them instead.
I can buy all of the ingredients in any grocery store with the exception of Tianjin Preserved Vegetable — a type of pickled Chinese cabbage which consists of chopped cabbage and salt. It can be purchased inexpensively online and appears to last until you die. In a pinch, I would substitute sauerkraut, drained and dried well on a paper towel. Tianjin vegetable is more pungent and earthy than sauerkraut but could work. Forgive me Jet for saying this.
Szechuan-Style Green Beans
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 tablespoon 22 g brown sugar
- l teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- l lb. 450 g green beans, trimmed
- 4 cups 960 ml canola or peanut oil
- 1 3/4 cups 200 g cornstarch for dredging
- 2 tablespoons 30 g Tianjin preserved vegetable or any Chinese preserved vegetables (optional)
- 2 tablespoons 20 g chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons 18 g chopped ginger
For the Sauce
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For the Green Beans
Wash the green beans and drain them thoroughly.
Add the oil to a deep skillet and bring the oil temperature up to 375°F (190°C). Dredge the beans in the cornstarch in a large bowl, knocking off any excess.
Deep-fry the beans for 1 to 3 minutes, until their skins begin to wrinkle but they're still crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Heat a separate deep skillet or wok to high and add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil leftover from deep frying. When you see a few wisps of white smoke, stir in the preserved vegetables, garlic and ginger and brown for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beans to the pan, folding constantly for about 30 seconds. Stir in the sauce and fold into the beans until well combined. Cook for about 1 minute until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Set up a large Dutch oven for the first fry. Use about 4 inches (10 cm) of oil. While frying your beans, have your wok heating up so you can stir-fry immediately.
To see more of Jet’s recipes and latest restaurants check out chefjet.com. He also conducts “Melting Pot Food Tours” of Thai Town in Los Angeles which offers a curated tour of his favorite aspects of the neighborhood. For a limited time, you can get a personalized cookbook on his website.
Jet was challenged to write this cookbook, I was challenged by the title, and I challenge you to buy this cookbook and give it a try.
…and then, she paused for thought.
Sue @ It's Okay to Eat the Cupcake
These green beans were so good, and your version looks delectable ~ almost too pretty to eat! I love your suggestion to blanch rather than fry them for the first cook – I am going to try that!
Thanks Sue. Blanching is a great option.
OK Jd would love these! Making them!
They are quite amazing. You both will like them.
These always are my favorite, favorite beans to order at the Chinese restaurant. Never thought to make it at home – thanks for the recipe!
That is how I feel about most Asian food. This cookbook is making me rethink ordering out food.
I love green beans… this looks delicious!!! A definite try!!!
It is delicious, and if you don’t want to mess with deep frying, blanching the beans works really well.
It was so much fun meeting Jet again after about 15 years ago, when he gave a nice talk at the Culinary Historians of S. Cal. group. Those beans were outrageously good and you captured their essence here Cathy along with the other dishes. Nice coverage for a great day.
Thanks Patricia. Jet is such a hoot and his recipes are really good.
Nan La Salle
Yes, these beans look delicious! Can’t wait to try them.
Thanks Nan, they are very delicious.
Great post! It was so incredible hearing Chef Jet’s story and I’m inspired to cook more new dishes from this book too! Thanks for sharing!!
Yes Chef Jet’s story is LaLa Land type of story. His cookbook is inspiring.
Wow I can’t believe I missed this post. I came across it while googling for green bean ideas. I love beans prepared this way and want to give it a go. GREG
Ahh! I see this post came when I was in Tahiti! GREG
Green beans were hopefully the last thing you had on your mind in Tahiti! 😉
They are quite tasty. I am impressed with Jet’s cooking and his ability to teach it.
The garlic sauce is called Chili garlic sauce, FYI.
Thanks Sage for your information and stopping by.