We are now entering the season where really good green beans grown locally will be available. I don’t know where the ones in the stores now come from but they’re pretty great as well. But I’ve been experimenting with a way of cooking green beans that we like so much we do it every week at least once.
1. Rinse and cut the green beens to desired size — I usually remove tips and then break them in half. You want enough beans to fill the wok to where you can still comfortably stir or flip them.
2. Get a wok smoking hot. Add a tablespoon (more or less depending on amount of beans) and swirl it around the pan. Have a cup or so of water next to the pan.
3. Before the oil gets a chance to burn dump in the beans.
4. Stir them constantly until the oil is evenly spread/absorbed. If your Wok Fu is strong, flip the beans repeatedly.
5. As the beans cook, add a dash or two of salt every minute or so. Enough to draw moisture out, but not so much that they’ll be saltier than you like when they’re done.
6. You want the beans to brown slightly, as this is what gives them their desired flavor. So, alternate between stirring and leaving the beans sit for 30 seconds or so.
6. The real secret: beans can and will burn black if they get too hot. As they cook, watch (and smell) closely, and if they get so dry that they begin to smoke, add a tablespoon of water to the pan, and then stir/flip vigorously.
7. The beans are done when they are as tender as you like to eat them. I prefer them just past al dente. Remove from the heat and let stand a few minutes, covered if you like your beans softer.
8. Garnish to taste with Sriracha sauce. Just a little bit will cause an awesome flavor synergy, but if you like your food very hot, green beans cooked this way can stand up to quite a bit of heat before the fire obscures the taste. I like the Sriracha sauce but any hot sauce (or Mongolian Fire Oil) would work too.
This is a method of cooking that works well on pretty much any vegetable except delicate greens. I like to think that the high heat, low moisture method concentrates the flavor back into the vegetable, as opposed to boiling or steaming.
This is especially good with kale — the Good For You vegetable that is challenging to prepare in a palatable manner. I like to boil kale a few minutes before chopping it and cooking it in the walk, as it is too sturdy to get tender with normal sautee or braise cooking.