Sunday, November 7, 2010

Four Seasons Beans

* 20 oz. Yard-long beans or string beans
* 2-3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
* 1/2” x 1” pc ginger, very finely minced
* 1 green onion, very finely minced
* 1 Heaping Tab of dried shrimp
* 2 Tab pickled mustard cabbage or Tianjin pickled vegetable
* 1 Tab soy
* 1/2 tsp coarse salt
* 1-1/2 tsp sugar
* 2-1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

* sesame oil to garnish

* 2-3 Quarts of Frying oil in large pot.

Wash, trim and cut beans to 2-3” lengths; make sure they are thoroughly dry. In a large pot, slowly heat deep fry oil to 350º (editor’s note: see “deep frying” in the Techniques section.) The beans can also be shallow fried or stir fried, though the cooking time may have to be increased. In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients. (Note that the garlic, ginger, green onion and shrimp should be finely minced, allowing the flavoring ingredients to cling to the beans when the dish is plated). In a bowl, pour 1 cup of very hot water over the dried shrimp and cover. Set aside for 30 minutes. Wash and drain the preserved vegetable, then press out any remaining moisture, chop roughly and set aside. Drain shrimp and mince finely.

When oil has reached 350º add the beans in two or three portions to keep foaming to a minimum, and deep fry until skin begins to blister and beans have slightly softened—about 2 minutes. It is crucial that the beans not be overcooked, as the loss of their texture ruins the dish. To be certain, after frying for about a minute, retrieve a bean section, quickly submerge in cold water and taste for doneness. The bean should be crisp; keep in mind the beans will continue to cook after they are taken out of the oil. When the beans are done, drain thoroughly and set aside. This step can be done ahead, but it is best to continue and complete the dish as soon as possible.
Heat the wok and add 2-3 Tab of peanut oil; on med high, but before wok begins to smoke, add ginger, garlic and onions. Toss once or twice and add dried shrimp and preserved vegetable. Immediately add beans, toss, then add vinegar, soy, sugar and salt. Be sure to check for saltiness: Gan bian si ji dou is a savoury dish, with just a hint of sweetness. Plate the beans, making sure you scrape the wok of the flavoring ingredients and scatter them on top of the dish. Garnish with a small amount of sesame oil.