Made in Jiānádà: Pork and Green Beans, China-Style

I’m not actually anywhere near my kitchen right now. In fact, I’m out in the wilds of Vancouver Island with my family, camping outside the gates of the Island Music Fest. My laptop is being powered by one of my dad’s spare car batteries and I’m stealing wifi from one of the sound stages. Music is drifting across the Grassy Knoll. No, not that grassy knoll. The other one.

This recipe is one I made last week, before we drove up island to the Comox Valley for a week. Our culinary excursions here have consisted of reheating things we had made earlier on the tiny propane burner in the tiny little camper.

For the record, eggplant with minced pork (to be posted when we get back) reheats fabulously.

This is a whole other deal, though working within the porky paradigm. This is one we have eaten many times in Shanghai, though I have to limit my intake as Doug’s less of a green bean fan than I am. If I could, I’d live on spicy minced pork with green beans (and eggplant!).

It’s very easy to make and the prep can be done in instalments. Do a little bit, walk away, come back later and do more. Assemble and cook when you’re ready.

It goes well as a side dish or as a main dish with rice. We actually chopped up the leftovers into little pieces and used it to fill fresh Vietnamese rice rolls (you know, the discs that you soak briefly in warm water to soften), along with fresh cilantro, vinegared onions, scallions and a squeeze of fresh lime. Gorgeous. There are no photos of this because we ate EVERYTHING.

They call these dry fried string beans in English in the recipe (technically it’s dry stirred- gān biān 干煸 – whatever that means) but they’re actually fried in oil, which isn’t exactly parched.

Go figure.

I kind of want to call out a square dance with this one, but with a hearty sìjì dòu instead of a do-si-do.

Ladies and gents, I give you pork ‘n beans. Kind of.


Gān biān sìjì dòu 干煸四季豆




500 gram long green beans (se dou/snake beans work best)
100 gram ground pork
20 gram leek/scallion
20 gram garlic
30 gram pickled ya cai (or substitute with pickled radish/zha cai)*
10 gram dried small shrimp (xia mi)
dried chilies (optional)
corn starch
sesame oil




Now, as you can see, the recipe given is all metric. I hauled out our kitchen scales for it. We have all mod cons here in Canada. If you are limited to cups and spoons, I figured out that 100g of minced meat is about 1/2 a cup, roughly. For things like the garlic and whatnot, I roughly calculated it as 50g per half cup, chopped. Thus, most of them were about 1/4 cup, though I bumped up the garlic factor.

I omitted the small dried shrimp because I freaking HATE dried shrimp.

The pickled veggies were found in Chinatown. If you can’t find them where you are, you could probably use any other similar concoction. To be honest, it tasted a lot like thickly sliced sauerkraut.  My guess is that these veggies are fermented rather than straight up pickled.


Start by marinating the minced pork in the soy, wine and cornstarch. I let mine go over night.
Rinse your beans. Mine were the length of a small child. Cut them into 4cm lengths (approx)
The pickled Chinese veggies.
I used slightly more than a 1/4 cup of garlic. In fact, I used half a head. Oh, and for reference, this is the pickle packet.
My garlic cup over runneth.
Mince everything up finely.
We had no scallions in the garden so I used garlic chives and the last garlic shoot remaining.
My mise en place, Chinese style.

Get your wok out and heat about 4-5 cm of oil in the bottom until bubbles form around an inserted chopstick. If you plunge it in, vertically, the bubbles will rise up along it when it’s hot enough. It’s quite a trip.

I was using a rather frustrating electric stove so had to heat it on quite high then quickly turn it down to medium once the bubbles appeared to prevent boiling. It’d be easier to control on a gas stove.

Carefully lower in some of the beans. You don’t want to over crowd it as it’ll lower the temperature.

I used this many beans at first, but found you could do twice as many at a time with no problem.
Fry the beans until they’re slightly white and wrinkly. Just a few minutes. The oil will appear to be boiling but it’s actually the water in the beans that’s bubbling.
The wrinkly fried beans look like this. When done, strain, drain and pat them dry with a paper towel to remove the excess oil.

I added a lot of crushed dried chilies…

From the garden, dried chilies.
About 3 or 4, crumbled up.
Sautee the pork, garlic and chilies until dry and crumbly in the wok. Add the scallions (or rather, garlic chives and lone garlic shoot). Stir. Add some soy and wine to taste. Add the pickled veggies at the end. Stir.

Add a little sesame oil just before you remove it from heat.

Remove from the heat and set aside.
Clean out the wok, add fresh new oil, and heat to nearly smoking. Add the beans and pork mix and stir stir stir. You’re just heating it up, not cooking it again.
Isn’t that pretty? Yum.
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  1. mjskit says:

    There’s a Vietnamese restaurant we frequent and one of us always orders the eggplant and pork, so I can’t wait to see your recipe! I’m really want to make that! I’ve never fried greens beans so I’m quite curious as to how they taste and the texture. Might have to give this recipe a try. It looks really, really good! Hope you’re having a fun vacation!
    mjskit recently posted..Fried Catfish and Carrot Raisin Salad – Picnic @ Ray’sMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      My vacation is lovely! Totally enjoying being back home, even if only for a short time. I’ll post the eggplant recipe on either Monday or Tuesday, after we get back It was YUM!

  2. Ann Mah says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes, but I had no idea the beans were deep fried! (And am very impressed with your deep-frying fortitude — it still scares me.) I hope to screw up enough courage to try this dish soon. Oh, and I’m TOTALLY in agreement on tiny dried shrimp. BLECH!

    1. MaryAnne says:

      I’m still scared of deep frying… these were, well, shallow frying? A few inches of oil in a wok is as close as I’ve ever come to deep frying! Submerging, say donuts into a vat of boiling oil? Terrifying!

      And yes, tiny dried shrimp are dangerously overrated!

  3. TracyAnn0312 says:

    I never thought that you can deep fry string beans. I was a little bit afraid frying different kinds of foods because of the oil. Thanks for another great recipe you have.
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