Don’t you just love those spicy Szechuan green beans they have at Chinese restaurants? I do. But having grown up with a diabetic mother, I had “square” meals drilled into my head at an early age. It’s hard for me to get through a meal without thinking that I need to have protein, veggies and some carbs. That’s always my problem at Chinese restaurants – I want entrees that combine my veggies and protein, but usually it’s either one or the other. And then you go out with friends and they want to order meat this and meat that, and I’m insisting that we also have to order something vegetarian because I need my vegetables!
Last weekend, I bought some green beans at the farmer’s market. I was actually surprised they still had them because I think of green beans as a late summer veggie. Our growing seasons are a bit longer in California, but I was surprised to see them and that they looked really good. Per usual, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with them, but I had some inklings of Chinese green beans in the back of my mind.
Of course, I didn’t want to make them on their own, like they do at the restos—I needed my protein with them (thanks, mom…). So, tofu for me to keep it healthy. I had a bunch of Chinese sauces in my fridge, so I thought I’d just combine them together to come up with something. I also picked up some Korean Go Ju Chang to add a bit of a kick. I’m sure no resto would combines the below, but whatever…
(Faux Szechuan) Sweet and Spicy Green Beans and Tofu
1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg. firm tofu, cut in ½ in. cubes
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce
1-2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. Mirin rice wine
½ -1 tsp. grated ginger
2 tbsp. Go Ju Chang
Water, if necessary
1) Heat oil in sauté pan, then add garlic. Stir quickly so garlic does not burn. Add green beans and toss to coat with garlic and oil. Add approximately ½ c. water and cover to let green beans steam for up to 5 minutes.
2) Combine sauce ingredients in small prep bowl. Taste. If it seems too salty, adjust with some water or extra Mirin.
3) Uncover green beans and let most of the water steam off. Remove green beans from pan, then add the tofu to the pan. Brown tofu a bit to get a nice color and texture on the cubes.
4) Combine green beans with tofu when desired browning has been reached.
5) Pour sauce over green beans and tofu; toss to combine.
6) Serve over rice.
When I made this, I actually put a bit of Thai fish sauce in the mixture. (Nothing like combining sauces from all over Asia!) I’m not sure I’d recommend doing that again since both the black bean and oyster sauces tend to be on the salty side. Adding fish sauce just made it even saltier. I might have needed to add some lime juice or something to cut that. (Maybe I’ll try that on the leftovers!) Hoisin may be a better choice for this than oyster sauce, but I didn’t feel like buying another jar of sauce that doesn’t get used that often and sits in the fridge—getting the go ju chang was enough for that. If you need to thicken the sauce, you can add a little cornstarch or arrowroot.
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