A quick and easy Chinese stir-fry recipe for french beans flash fried in hot oil till just tender, then stir-fried with minced pork, aromatic dried shrimps and salted radish in a spicy, flavoured soy bean paste.
This is a savoury, meaty vegetable dish that I enjoy tucking into at tze char (Chinese fast food) haunts and restaurants.
I particularly enjoy these french beans (also known as haricot vert) flash fried in hot oil till just tender, and then stir-fried with minced pork, aromatic dried shrimps and salted radish in a spicy, flavoured soy bean paste.
You can use long green beans or string beans, but my favoured choice of beans are french beans. These are usually a darker shade of emerald green, shorter, thinner and are without seeds or pods. These cook faster, are much more tender in texture and taste sweeter. This recipe will work just as well with the various varieties, but just bear in mind, that the texture will differ (some varieties are tougher or more fibrous), as will cooking time.
This french beans and minced pork stir-fry makes an excellent main dish that is best eaten with steamed jasmine rice or plain congee. If you’d like a healthier version, you can omit the deep frying, and add the french beans together with the seasonings, then let cook until the beans become tender. I do find that deep frying will provide a crispier crunch on the outside, yet retaining the tender texture of the flesh.
- 300 g french beans
- 100 g minced pork
- 2 tbsp finely minced salted radish
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp soaked till soft, drained, chopped
- 1 clove finely minced garlic
- 1 tbsp finely minced red chilli
- Some oil for deep frying
- 2 tbsp oil for stir-frying
- 1 tbsp fermented soy bean paste (regular or spicy)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- Dash ground white pepper
- 100 ml water
Trim the stems off the french beans, cut into halves or 2-inch (5-cm) lengths. Wash and drain. Set aside.
Fill a wok one-quarter full with cooking oil. Heat over high heat till very hot. Deep-fry french beans, in two batches, till evenly seared and just tender. Remove and drain on paper towels. Drain the oil from the wok, leaving behind 2 tbsp of oil in the wok. (Note: Omit this step if you do not wish to use the deep-fry method).
Heat up 2 tbsp oil in wok over high heat. Add the minced garlic, salted radish and dried shrimp, and stir-fry until fragrant.
Add minced pork, and continue to stir-fry until pork is cooked through. Using your wok chan, keep breaking up the minced pork as it cooks, into smaller pieces.
If using deep-fried french beans: Add seasoning and chopped red chilli, and continue to stir-fry until liquid has reduced considerably, about 1 minute. Add in french beans, stir-fry or toss vigorously to mix well.
If using raw french beans: Add french beans together with seasoning and chopped red chilli. Continue to stir-fry until french beans have softened, and liquid has reduced considerably. If the liquid reduces too quickly before the beans are cooked through, add a little more water and continue to let braise.
Dish out onto a serving plate, and serve hot.
SOME IMPORTANT TIPS FOR DEEP FRYING
#1. If you choose to deep fry your food, be sure to have very hot oil in the wok. Use a neutral cooking vegetable oil like canola or canola oil blend, which have high smoke points and thus can accommodate being heated to very high temperatures. Never use olive oil or sesame oil, which have low smoke points, or strongly flavoured oils as these can impart undesirable flavours on the food being fried. With washed vegetables, always drain and let dry completely before deep frying, to prevent hot oil splattering. With meats and sea food, always pat dry with paper towels before frying.
#2. Heat up the oil to its optimal temperature. This is usually between 170 to 180 deg C (350 to 375 deg F), depending on the recipe. A simple test is to put the tip of a wooden chopstick into the oil in the centre of the wok. If the oil bubbles vigorously around the wooden tip, the oil is ready for frying. Or, if a small piece of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 15 seconds, the oil is ready for frying. Or, you could use a thermometer dip. If the oil is not hot enough, the french beans will have to be deep-fried for a longer time than is optimal, and may end up soggy or oil-soaked. This will influence the taste and texture of the overall dish. If, on the other hand, the oil is heated until it begins to smoke, then it is already too hot, and will burn and spoil the flavour of your food. In this case, remove from heat, and let the oil temperature drop till the desired or optimal range.
#3. It is always good practice to deep fry in batches, as food introduced into the cooking oil will absorb heat to cook, thus resulting in a drop in the cooking temperature. This is why smaller batches are suggested so that the temperature drop is minimised. This is also why, when deep-frying in batches, you need to allow the oil time to heat up again to the optimal temperature before tipping in the next batch of food into the oil.
#4. It is recommended that you let deep-fried food sit on paper towels, rather than wire racks, to allow excess oil to drain out from the fried food.