When Mama Lin visited a few weeks ago, she was so excited to show me how to make her garlic green beans. It is something she started cooking recently for my family back home, and everyone loves it!
The unique quality about this dish is that the green beans are flash fried. This quickly blisters a thin layer of the skin, causing it to wrinkle. You only need to fry the beans for 1 to 2 minutes, which will keep the center tender and lightly crisp. When you bite into the green beans, you can taste the blistered skin and tender center in every bite. It’s so delicious!
COOKING NOTES FOR GARLIC GREEN BEANS
PREPARATION FOR FLASH FRYING GREEN BEANS
After you wash the green beans, make sure to dry them thoroughly. You don’t want the beans to be wet because you’ll be dropping the beans into hot oil. Any water going into hot oil will cause the oil to splatter violently.
Usually, I spin the green beans in a salad spinner and spread the beans over a towel to air dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
TIPS FOR FRYING GREEN BEANS
I like to fry the green beans inside a smaller narrow-bottomed wok because I don’t need to use as much oil for frying. For this recipe, I used about 1/2 cup safflower oil. If you don’t have a small wok, a small saucepan works, too. Just use tongs to remove the beans from the saucepan.
To see if the oil is hot enough for frying, I usually stick bamboo chopsticks into the wok so that the tips of the chopsticks are touching the bottom. If you see tiny bubbles rapidly forming around the chopsticks, it means that the oil is hot enough. This is a trick I learned from Mama Lin!
These green beans only need 1 or 2 minutes of frying, until the skins start to wrinkle. You don’t want to fry them for too long because the beans will lose the crisp in the center and turn mushy.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER FRYING OIL
You can reuse leftover frying oil. Right after I fry the green beans, I carefully pour the frying oil into a bowl to cool. If you’d rather not handle hot oil, let the oil cool in the wok completely before the next step. Once the oil has cooled completely, strain the oil through a fine mesh to extract any burnt bits in the oil. Transfer the strained oil to a jar and store in a cool, dark place.
I try to use the oil in a few weeks. If you can’t use it up, throw the oil away inside the jar or a tightly sealed container. DO NOT pour oil into the sink, as it is not good for the environment and it might damage your pipes.
Check out this post from Bon Appétit for more information on storing and using leftover frying oil.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH GREEN BEANS
Chinese Garlic Green Beans
- 1 pound green beans, rinsed, and dried (see note 1)
- 1/2 cup safflower or vegetable oil, (see note 2)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, about 5 to 6 plump cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or kosher salt
- red pepper flakes
- toasted sesame seeds
- Snap off the tough ends of the green beans. If your green beans are very long, snap them in half.
- Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. To check to see if the oil is hot enough, stick bamboo chopsticks into the wok so that the tips of the chopsticks are touching the bottom. You want to see tiny bubbles rapidly forming around the chopsticks. Alternatively, you can throw a green bean into the wok. If bubbles start to form around the bean immediately, the oil is ready for frying.
- Working in batches, fry the green beans for about 2 minutes, until the green beans start to wrinkle on the outside. You don’t need to cook the green beans for too long. Use a spider strainer to strain the oil from the beans and then transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the beans are fried. Turn off the heat. If you want the beans to be less greasy, blot them with paper towels.
- Carefully pour the used frying oil into a bowl. If you do not want to handle hot oil, let the oil cool completely in the wok. Don’t bother wiping the wok at this point because you’ll be using it to fry the garlic next, and you can use the residual oil in the wok for that.
- Heat the wok over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook it for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the green beans back to the wok, along with the salt. Stir to combine. Cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and transfer the green beans to a serving plate. Garnish the beans with red pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds, if you like.
- You can also use wax beans or Chinese long beans for this!
- Canola or any other neutral-flavored oil works, too. You want to cover the bottom of a wok with 1/2 to 1 inch of oil. For my narrow-bottomed wok, 1/2 cup of safflower oil is enough. However, you might need a little more.
- If you don’t have a wok, you can fry these in a saucepan. You’ll need a slotted spoon to remove the fried green beans.