Monday, October 18, 2010

Dry-Fried Long Beans (Szechuan Style)


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I used to abhor Szechuan food as a kid. I couldn't understand why my parents chose to lunch at the now defunct Meisan Szechuan Restaurant almost every Sunday. Do you remember that place? It used to be - I think - at the old (now also defunct) Holiday Inn Hotel. Anyone old enough in da house who can verify? ;)

My memories of that place are very hazy ... but I remember 2 things very vividly:

1. The dry-fried long beans which were served uncut, and which often made me gag. I wasn't too fond of that dish very much back then.

2. The chinese tea was always served in a white tea cup, on a saucer. Yes, very strange to serve chinese tea in an English tea cup. But that wasn't my gripe. I hated the design of the cup. The narrow handle was waaay too close to the side of cup, and when you slipped your finger in get a grip, you would inadvertently come into contact with the hot surface and get scalded. Whoever designed the cup was truly a neanderthal. Epic fail!

Of course, as I grew up and my palate started to develop, I realised just why my parents loved Szechuan Sunday brunches. It's a cuisine that is bold in flavours and packs a whole lotta punch.

So the other day, when I spied some really lovely long beans (aka string beans, yard long beans) at the market, I bought some to experiment dry-frying them, Szechuan style. This dish is mostly served with minced pork, but I made mine a meatless version, albeit with dried scallops (conpoy), which you can leave out if you really want it vegetarian.

Recipe
(serves 2)
- 200g to 250g long beans, cut approximately 2-inches lengths and DRIED on a towel
- 1 handful dried scallops, soaked for 10mins in water (I used baby scallops)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red chilli, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp sambal* or chilli paste
- Splash of kicap manis for colour (you can use dark soy sauce too ... use sparingly)
- Salt to taste
- Dash of sugar (optional)

* I tried using Sing Long brand nasi lemak sambal chilli for this dish and it was pretty good. Note though, that if you are making a vegetarian version, you have to use a sambal that doesn't contain dried shrimps (udang kering) or ikan bilis (anchovies). And of course, omit the dried scallops too.


I decided to cut the long beans just in case - heaven forbid - I really gagged on them. Heh. Some things never change.


The thing about dry-frying is, the beans must take on that wrinkly, blistered appearance. Remember, fine lines and wrinkles FTW!

1. In a skillet or wok, add about 3 tbsp vegetable oil. When it is smoking hot, add in long beans. This is when you'll regret not drying them as instructed because you'll be getting splashed with hot oil!

2. Fry the beans till them take on a wrinkly, blistered appearance. If your oil is smoking hot, this will be quick. Remove from the skillet and leave the beans to drain on a paper serviette.

3. In the same skillet, add in the garlic and chilli slices, and fry briefly. Add sambal or chilli paste. Add in softened scallops (not the soaking water). Stirfry briefly. Add a splash of kicap manis (or dark soy sauce).

4. Now return the long beans to the skillet. Give them a quick stirfry and add salt (and sugar, if using) to taste. Dish up and serve.


There! My humble take on this dish.
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30 comments:

  1. That looks very appetizing! I do love myself some hot and spicy Szechuan food. Yum, yum.

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  2. I too love hot spicy Szechuan food and would love your beans..No gagging here..promise:) What cute memories you have:) You make me smile.

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  3. I love crunchy long beans! Simply appetizing!

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  4. My "Ah Ma" used to cook it vry often when I was a child, Miss it! Yummmm~

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  5. My mY they look super spicy and szechuan in my fav :)

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  6. These look just delicious, and I do LOVE beans. Why would anyone NOT cut them up though?

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  7. Not a huge fan of veg but I LOVE this Szechuan style. So tasty!

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  8. Le tue ricette sono sempre molto interessanti e le tue foto splendide, non smetti mai di stuprimi. Un abbraccio Daniela.

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  9. I don't even have the luxury to dine at restaurants when I was younger. :O But I remember my first Szechuan taste at Goodwood's Park Mingjiang where I first tasted 干煸四季豆! Love it.

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  10. I love both this type of bean and Szechuan flavors in general. Glad you came to like them so that you're now sharing this recipe with us. Looks so flavorful and delish.

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  11. thats one of my favorite dishes and my favorite way to eat those beans! thanks for sharing

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  12. deep fried anything and I am so there. these are pretty much the perfect food. can't wait to try these!

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  13. I Love sechuan ANYTHING. and dry frying this is perfect. I love beans and the combo with scallops and chilli sound just up my street. Good for you for getting over your food phobia... Lovely dish and photos!

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  14. Love long beans and this is a great dish! Love the lighting of the first photo - very soft !

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  15. My mum used to cook this! Ah this brings back so many memories!

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  16. These are great!!! I can have two big bowl of rice with just this :)

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  17. Yums!! But hor.. i quite scared to do this dish leh.. hahahhaa.. because it involves frying the vege with oil! *vain right?!?!?*

    The ironic part is, i always eat unhealthy and fattening food!

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  18. OMG this looks so delicious Ju! I wish this was my lunch right this very minute....can I come over?
    ((((hugs))))

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  19. Ju - I know what you mean about developing tastes as we grow older - same here! I also never liked these beans until a few years ago - never understood how that crinckly appearance came about- thanks for sharing the tip (and also about making sure to dry the beans.)

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  20. Using "The Little Teochew" as your blogname is genius! I come across hundreds, and I mean actually *hundreds* - I'm not using it as an expression - of food posts everyday (I think yours came up though Food Spotting) and I mostly glaze over them (with my eyes that is) but I saw yours and thought, "Teochew? Really?!".

    It's really not often that "Teochew" comes up especially out here in the wild West (London). Actually, this is the first time I've knowingly seen the word on the internet. I'm half(ish) Teochew and also from Singapore originally.

    Anyway, well done on the blog! The pictures look great and hopefully I find the time soon to try out the recipes.

    Perhaps eventually I'll find my path with my (non-food) blog.

    Thanks and all the best,
    Andrea

    p.s. this is going to remind me that I miss the food in Singapore. Hrmph.

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  21. Andrea: So glad to have brought a piece of Singapore to you today. :)

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  22. this is the perfect dish with a bowl of white rice. simple and delicious!

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  23. It is quite interesting how our palates develop.. I used to hate curry now I can"t seem to go for two weeks without it!! Adore the spicy long beans!!

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  24. is there any difference between sambal pasta and sambal shrimp paste?

    sorry to ask such a "weird" question...

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  25. Anon: Yes ... there is. Some sambal do not contain shrimp paste (belacan).

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  26. I just love long beans done this way..so very good.... but I've never heard of dried scallops... must be delish!

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  27. The beans were actually my favourite dish! do you remember? I would eat only that with lots of rice!

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