Lean, Mean, Green Bean Machine

Hard to imagine it’s only week 2 of residency with all the things we’ve done already. Sarah has removed a lymph node and a lipoma in the operating room and managed >40 patients on call. I’ve done a few lumbar punctures, reduced a nursemaid’s elbow, and sutured a head and a chin laceration. With all the go go go pace of the ED, it’s nice to take a break from the diet of scarfing down apples and Clif bars while typing notes and make some real food.

I love green beans. I loved them growing up. I love them now. I remember requesting that my mom buy green beans almost every time she went out to the store. When she got home with a bulging bag of green beans, I would sit on the ground with my grandma and my dad perched on stools, chit chatting as we trimmed the beans. My mom would be busy chopping garlic or preparing the rest of the meal.

One of my favorite renditions has to be dry cooked green beans or gan bian si ji dou (干煸四季豆). There’s something about the texture of the beans with their blistery skins and the flavorful morsels of ginger, garlic, bits of meat, and spices that make it absolutely delicious. It’s a dish that you can find at most Chinese restaurants, and one that I tend to order everywhere I go. The biggest issue with recreating this dish at home is getting that nice blistery outside on the beans without a wok that goes up to 900 degrees (although my mom doesn’t seem to have a problem with this…some kind of mom magic). Luckily, there’s a nice work around.

Dry Fried Green Beans


  • Green beans                                         1 lb, washed and trimmed
  • Ginger                                                    2 T, minced
  • Garlic                                                      2 T, minced
  • Preserved mustard stems                2 T, minced (cheap at Asian grocery stores)
  • White pepper                                       1.5 T
  • Salt                                                          1/2 T
  • Oil                                                             2 T

Start off by tossing green beans in oil, salt, and white pepper, trying to get an even coat. Place the seasoned beans on a sheet pan, and stick it in the oven at broil for 15-20 minutes (depends on the power of your oven). By the end, you should start seeing the skin of the beans start blistering. When your beans are getting close to done, heat up oil in a wok/pan on medium high heat and begin to saute the ginger, garlic, and preserved mustard stems until they start to brown. Remove the beans from the oven and add them to your wok/pan. Continue stir frying for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.



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