Since I started making these Ginger Braised Green Beans in the 1980s, there has not been a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that is complete without them. And they can be made all year long. How I devised this recipe, is the fact that once I discovered green beans in Chinese restaurants, I started ordering them all the time. On most Chinese restaurant menus there is a fried, or spicy, or braised green bean dish on the menu, and they are often served with browned ground pork.
When I bought my first wok, I was suddenly cooking everything in it. One of the first things that I tried making in the wok was green beans. I was determined to come up with my own variation on what I loved in Chinese restaurants. Voila: here is my own recipe for Ginger Braised Green Beans.
The term “braised” refers to something being cooked rapidly in oil, then slowly cooked with an added liquid that steams the vegetables or meat. And, that is exactly what you do to these green beans, onions and ginger, and it works perfectly!
For me, a wok with a lid is the ultimate vessel to create this recipe in. However, I have also successfully made these green beans in an electric frying pan, and a large standard frying pan as well. The biggest challenge with not using a wok for this recipe comes with the need for constantly stirring the green beans, and keeping them in the pan. Other than that, the quality of the green beans come out the same.
Although this recipe calls for what seems like a massive amount of green beans, they significantly shrink in volume once they start to cook. While I mainly make this as a side dish at family dinners, I have also added chicken to it, as a Chinese main course, and served it with white rice.
—1 1/2 pounds of Green Beans (a/k/a String Beans)
—1 large purple, yellow, or white Onion
—1/2 cup chopped fresh Ginger Root
—1/2 cup Olive Oil
—1/2 cup Soy Sauce
—1/2 teaspoon Salt
—1/8 cup Sesame Oil
Wash the green beans, and remove the stem ends. You can cut the beans in half or keep them whole. Place the cleaned and trimmed beans into the wok or frying pan. Peel and chop the onion into medium sized pieces. Clean the skin off of one large ginger root, and slice it into little “matchsticks.” Add the onion and ginger to the wok, as well as the olive oil.
If you are using an electric wok, or electric frying pan, turn it up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using a standard stovetop wok, turn up the heat to medium to medium high heat. As the oil in the bottom of the pan starts to boil, stir fry the bean / onion / ginger mixture. Stir every minute or so to equally expose everything to the hot oil. After about 10 minutes the beans should be bright green and show signs of cooking.
After 10 minutes take the lid off the wok or frying pan, and add the soy sauce. When the soy sauce hits the hot oil, a fragrant steam will rise up. Put the lid on the pan and let the beans steam for a minute or two.
Lift the lid, and stir the green beans every minute or so, to make sure that they are evenly cooking. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, continually stirring them every minute or two and then replacing the lid. When the skins of the green beans begin to wrinkle, test them. Be careful not to overcook them, or undercook them. They should still have a little bit of a crunch to them, yet they should be getting soft enough to eat.
In the last five minutes of cooking, add the sesame oil and salt. Stir the oil and salt into the cooking beans.
I guarantee: once you try these beans, the idea of boiling green beans to cook them will seem so boring. These beans are mildly spicy, and full of flavor. If you follow this easy recipe, you can officially say “goodbye” to dull green beans forever!
NOTE: If you want to make this as a Chinese main course, you can add cooked beef, cooked cubed or shredded chicken, or cooked shrimp to this bean onion ginger dish. To do this, cook the meat or shrimp in oil in the wok or frying pan prior to making the beans. Remove the meat or shrimp from the wok or pan, and set it aside. Then add the protein to the beans during their last five minutes of cooking, to warm it up with the beans and sauce that are in the pan or wok.