Just Good Food

by John Ryan


Spicy Green Beans
with Rice Temples

Serves 2


We probably have this every couple weeks. I admit, it looks long and involved, but it really only takes about 30 minutes from the time you get the water going till the time you sit down to eat. of course, the first time it took twice that long, but now it's a simple routine. A critical part of making this quickly is owning the staples: soy sauce, bean sauce, chili paste with garlic, fresh ginger, and dark sesame oil. The shopping list is green beans, pork, and scallions.


You need
30 minutes
Wok or very large skillet
Pot to blanch green beans

1 cup white rice, preferably basmati

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 teaspoons minced ginger, approximately
4 tablespoons minced pork, about 2 ounces

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons bean sauce
2 teaspoons chili paste with garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Finishing touches
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts


Get ready
1) Set a pot of water to boil for the beans. Start the rice.

1) Blanch the beans (A. Drop them in boiling water and let them boil until they taste cooked but are still firm — 3 minutes or so. B. Drain the green beans and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking more. C. Drain well and set aside.)

2) Meanwhile, mince the ginger, the pork, and slice the scallions—both the white and green parts. Put each on a piece of waxed paper by the stove.

3) Measure the sauce ingredients into a bowl. Stir the cornstarch up.

By now the rice ought to be about done. When it's done, turn off the heat and leave covered. (Wait until the rice is done to start the stir-fry.)

1) Put your wok over high heat. Add the oil, then the ginger. Give it a quick stir and throw in the pork. Stir until the pork is no longer pink, then mix the cornstarch up again and pour the sauce into the pan. When the sauce boils, throw in the green beans. Stir to let the sauce heat the green beans for a minute or two.

Make rice temples by lightly packing some rice into a custard cup and inverting it onto a plate.

Drizzle the sesame oil over the beans, stir the scallions in and immediately serve around the rice temples.


Tofu—When you throw the blanched green beans into the sauce, throw in about half pound of firm tofu cut into bite-sized cubes.

Shiitake mushrooms—Slice about a dozen shiitake caps and toss them in with the pork. Other mushrooms work fine as well.


Ingredient Notes:
Minced Pork—Buying ground pork is fine, but I find that it often tastes old. Not bad, just kind of stale. and nobody wants to sell a 1/4 cup of ground pork. What I do is buy one boneless pork chop. At home I cut it in half and freeze half, then chop the bejesus out of the remaining half. (I'm not too compulsive about having exactly 4 tablespoons. In fact, for those times you don't have any pork, know that the recipe is fine without it.)

You may get lucky and find these items in a big supermarket, but more likely you'll have to visit a Chinese market:

Bean sauce (sauce de haricots)—Look at the list of ingredients. You want water, soya bean, salt, wheat flour, and sugar.

Chili paste with garlic—The brand I use is Lan Chi.

Dark sesame oil—This is made with toasted sesame seeds, so it is quite dark. You rarely use more than a teaspoon of this at a time, so buy the smallest bottle you can.


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John Ryan

Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.


This page created March 2001