Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chinese-Styled Green Beans

I've been looking for more creative ways to cook vegetables so that they are more enjoyable to eat. When I went to China last summer I fell in love with some of the dishes we had and I've been craving them ever since. One of them was a green bean dish from the Sichuan University dining hall. My mom and I found a recipe that looked similar, but of course it wasn't quite the same because we do not have the same ingredients and spices in America.

This is a wonderful way to dress up ordinary green beans. If you don't like spicy food, I'd suggest halfing the amount of red peper flakes. This recipe is a little spicy, but I LOVE spicy food and will be living where some of the hottest dishes in the world are prepared, so I tend to like things hotter than some people.

Green Beans with Red Pepper and Garlic

1 pound green beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon seseme oil (available in the Asian foods section of Wal-Mart)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Boil enough water to cover green beans. Add green beans. Cook 3 minutes; drain. Plunge green beans into ice water immediately. Drain, set aside. In a fry pan, heat oil. Add bell pepper, stir 1 minute. Add beans, stir 1 minute. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Drizzle with seseme oil and season with salt and pepper.

If you don't have seseme oil, just skip it or substitute something else. I found out that the green beans will be mushy if you put them in the water while it is boiling. Make sure the cold water has ice. This way the beans will be crispy and bright green instead of olive green and mushy.

These are also easy to eat with chopsticks!

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