Gan Bian Si Ji Dou (Dry fried four season bean)
Gan Bian Si Ji Dou is a classic vegetable dish, thought to be from Sichuan, which one will encounter on Chinese menus all over the world. In the past, the bean most traditionally used in this Sichuan dish is chang dou orchang jiang dou, known in English as yard-long beans. The reference in the name “si ji dou”, (lit: four season bean) is likely due to the beans’ heartiness, and farmers’ ability to grow it in almost any season. In any event, over time, the common green bean or string bean has occasionally been used in China, and invariably in the West. The two are very similar, though the long bean requires slightly longer cooking time, and is less likely to be stringy or tough. Traditional variations on this famous preparation add ground pork, omit the dried shrimp, vary the seasoning ingredients; but all include the double-cooked beans, the preserved vegetable and minced onions while maintaining the crisp texture and sweet fresh flavor of the beans.
- 20 oz. Yard-long beans or string beans
- 2-3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
- 1/2” x 1” pc ginger, very finely minced
- 1 green onion, very finely minced
- 1 Heaping Tab of dried shrimp
- 2 Tab pickled mustard cabbage or Tianjin pickled vegetable
- 1 Tab soy
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1-1/2 tsp sugar
- 2-1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- sesame oil to garnish
- 2-3 Quarts of Frying oil in large pot.
When oil has reached 350º add the beans in two or three portions to keep foaming to a minimum, and deep fry until skin begins to blister and beans have slightly softened—about a minute or two, depending on the freshness of the beans. It is crucial that they not be overcooked, as the loss of their texture ruins the dish. To be certain, after frying for about a minute, retrieve a bean section, quickly submerge in cold water and taste for doneness. The bean should be crisp; keep in mind the beans will continue to cook after they are taken out of the oil. When the beans are done, drain thorougly and set aside. This step can be done ahead, but it is best to continue and complete the dish as soon as possible.
Heat the wok and add 2-3 Tab of peanut oil; on med high, but before wok begins to smoke, add ginger, garlic and onions. Toss once or twice and add dried shrimp and preserved vegetable. Immediately add beans, toss, then add vinegar, soy, sugar and salt. Be sure to check for saltiness: Gan bian si ji dou is a savoury dish, with just a hint of sweetness. Plate the beans, making sure you scrape the wok of the flavoring ingredients and scatter them on top of the dish. Garnish with a small amount of sesame oil.