Along with orange chicken, green beans with garlic black bean sauce is one of my favorite Chinese American dishes. Next to other battered and fried meat in sticky sweet sauces, there’s something pleasantly refreshing about a savory vegetable dish. Sure, it’s a long way from healthy, but the color and flavor contrast lures me in every time.
If you’ve planted a patch of green beans this year, you may be finding yourself with fully matured beans that are a little too tough to eat by now. But before you let them go to seed, try using them in this dish. The high temperature oil renders even the most mature green beans tender, while preserving their vibrant green color.
To make this dish vegan, you can substitute the pork for crumbled firm tofu that’s been drained for an hour in a sieve, and the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
If you like it spicy, try adding your favorite Asian hot sauce. I used doubanjiang (chili bean paste) because it goes well with the black beans, but sriracha or sambal ulek would work too.
As for the black beans, before you run out and buy a can of beans, I should tell you that the black beans used in this dish are something very different from the black turtle beans used in Latin American cuisine. Also known as douchi (豆豉) in China, these “black beans” are actually soybeans that get their color and distinct flavor from a fermentation process. The pea-sized beans are salty, relatively dry, and have a pungent earthy aroma along with an abundance of savory umami compounds.
You can usually find them sold in small vacuum-sealed bags in most Asian grocery stores, but if you can’t find them you can substitute the more common black bean sauce that comes in jars and is sold in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
Green Beans with Garlic Black Bean Sauce
Enjoy this savory, colorful vegetable dish of green beans with garlic black bean sauce for a delicious Chinese American dinner. Food blogger Marc Matsumoto shares why this dish is one of his favorites in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 9 ounces green beans, ends trimmed off
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2" piece of ginger finely minced
- 3 green onions, white parts minced separately from green parts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans (or 1 tablespoon black bean sauce)
- 3.5 ounces ground pork
- 1 teaspoon doubanjiang (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, potato starch, soy sauce and sugar until there are no lumps.
- Prepare a wire rack with a double layer of paper towels. Add 1/4 “ of oil to a frying pan or wok and heat over medium heat. Making sure the green beans are very dry, carefully add half of them to the frying pan. If they’ve been thoroughly dried, they shouldn’t spatter too much, but they may pop and splash hot oil, so be careful.
- Use a set of long tongs to turn the beans over. When they’ve turned a vibrant green, transfer the beans to the paper towel lined rack to drain. Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, cut them in into thirds.
- Drain the oil from the pan and wipe the pan out. Add the sesame oil and heat over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and the white part of the scallions. Sauté until fragrant, and then add the black beans and continue to fry until the black beans smell toasty. Add the pork and doubanjiang (if you want it spicy), then continue to stir-fry, breaking up the pork until it is fully cooked.
- When the pork is cooked through, add the chicken stock mixture, stirring until it is thick and bubbly. Finish by adding the green beans and coat them with the sauce. Plate the green beans and garnish with some of the minced scallion greens (you can save the rest for another use). Serve with hot rice.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.