Once I got an email from a Bon Appétit reader who said her husband is a picky eater, and listed all of his likes and dislikes. He likes vegetables, in small amounts, but NO GREEN BEANS. Of all things. Green beans! I’m going to venture he was traumatized by canned ones microwaved with margarine and iodized salt like the ones I grew up with. Or frozen ones, steamed to flavorless mush, also probably in the microwave. Green beans have had some rough times in the efficiency era. So I sent the reader some green-bean-less recipes, and hoped for the best. But we really needed Chris Morocco to help us rebrand* weeknight green beans. Help us, Chris!
And he did, because Chris Morocco is a professional. Maybe you’ve had Gan Bian Si Ji Dou before, or can recognize those wrinkly-wonderful green beans by sight from across a crowded dining room. That Sichuan dish of dry-fried string beans, Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, ginger, garlic, and maybe some pickles (among other variations), inspired Chris’s recipe, which replicates that texture, with otherwise pared-down ingredients. The goal was to fry beans that end up concentrated with flavor and this blistered, almost crunchy texture that is, to your brain, potato chips. YUM.
Let’s make them together, through words.
Heat oil in a cast iron pan until it’s shimmering, then add a ton of green beans that you’ve hopefully dried completely, otherwise you’re in for SplatterTime. Let them brown, almost like you’re making ground meat, for around three minutes, no touching. Turn them with tongs to brown the other side, then the other side, and then the other side…well you get what I mean. They’re round, do your best. Get them wrinkly and blistered to near-burnt. Flavor arrives in the final minute.
The final minute!!!
This is when you add six sliced garlic cloves, a handful of capers, salt, and red pepper flakes. That simple combo will bring you a slap of flavor. Yeah, it slaps. The garlic will brown quickly, like a minute, and—hurry!—transfer everything to a bowl before it burns. Once you’re eating them all, with your fingers, you’ll realize that you can follow this recipe with any otherwise traumatically blah weeknight green you’ve been avoiding. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, all of those vegetables called out in cartoons when kids won’t finish their plates. Give ‘em another go!
Get the recipe:
*Let us help YOU rebrand a vegetable for a quarter of the price of any advertising firm. Email email@example.com with your sad vegetable inquiry!