I hope you will forgive me for making not totally dry and not totally flat string beans. Let me explain…gan bian si ji dou is a standby dish that my sister and I would order because we were confident that it would be on a Chinese restaurant’s menu 95% of the time. Whether it was the plenty of garlic in the dish, morsels of ground pork, or the salty string beans, something kept us coming back! My mom would judge this dish based on how gan (dry) and bian (flat) the string beans were. Restaurants most often deep fry the beans to save time, but for the dish to be true to its name, you were supposed to stir-fry the beans in oil until they slowly dried out and flattened.
The string beans from the CSA were amazing, and I couldn’t bear to cook the string beans silly, so I erred on the side of less dry and more plump.
String Beans and Ground Pork
gan bian si ji dou
serves 4 as part of a multi-dish meal
1 Tbsp (or more) oil
1 lb string beans, trimmed and cut into lengths of 2 to 2 1/2 inches
3/4 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
1/4 lb ground pork
1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 whole dried chilies (I used Thai), torn into bits
2 tsp soy sauce
1) Add 1 Tbsp oil and string beans to a hot wok or skillet. Increase the heat to high, and sautee the string beans, being sure to constantly stir. Add salt to taste. Cook until at least tender, and longer if you want it more dry (gan). Don’t mind some charred spots on the string beans- it will taste good! Of course, add more oil and turn the heat down if it starts to get too hot. If you stove is a pansy like mine is, this probably does not apply to you 😉 When the beans are cooked to your liking, take them out of the pan.
2) In the same cooking vessel, brown the meat. If the meat is rather lean and doesn’t render much fat, add a little bit of oil; otherwise, you can rely on the fat produced by the meat. Add wine, then stir until evaporated.
3) Turn the heat to low, and add garlic and chilies, stirring constantly. When the garlic and chilies are fragrant, add the string beans back in, then add soy sauce and stir well to distribute all the sauces and flavors.
4) Take off the heat and enjoy with rice.
-My hypothesis on string beans: The surfaces of the string beans seem to have a naturally “waxy” coating that seems to repel seasoning and deflect it to all other components. The more blistered and cooked the string beans, the more disrupted the protective coating around the string bean, and the easily they will soak up sauces and seasonings.
-In case you haven’t noticed already, lots of the dishes on this site call for pork. I guess that’s just the nature of Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine! If you prefer, feel free to use ground chicken or turkey for this dish instead.
-If you don’t have dried chilies, you can use fresh chilies, or omit them for an un-spicy dish.
-Make sure to season the string beans to your liking before adding the meat back in; the meat will hog up any additional seasoning.