Sichuan style green beans are tasty, but they usually require a wok and a good bit of cooking oil. If you don't own a wok (or simply don't want to deal with a bunch of oil) they may seem out of your grasp but, over at Serious Eats, Kenji (of Food Lab fame) has devised a way to get vibrant, blistered beans using your broiler.
Photo by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
Part of what makes these green beans so exciting (yes, green beans can be exciting ) is their crispy, browned exterior and tender, but still snappy inside. Mushy beans are unacceptable, which is why deep-frying followed by a quick stir-fry in aromatics has long been the preferred preparation.
To make a blistered bean without all of the excess oil, Kenji tested six different methods, ultimately deciding to move the operation out of the frying pan (or wok) and into the oven:
I figured that if I were to preheat my oven enough, I might be able to get a similar effect by tossing my beans in a little oil and throwing them in for a few moments. The regular oven, even when heated to its maximum temperature of 287°C didn't cook quite fast enough — the beans still turned soft by the time they were blistered — but the broiler-cooked beans were fantastic. By letting the broiler heat up to inferno-levels, then placing the beans as close as possible underneath, I was able to get them to blister and brown in record time.
Next, Kenji turned his attention to the sauce, which you can read all about in the link below. Spoiler alert: it also can be made without a wok, meaning these beans are a very real, and very exciting side dish option for you to make tonight.