Chinese Dry-Fried Green Beans

dry fried green beans in a skillet with red chillies and garlic cloves
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Glistening with a just-enough slick of spicy, savory, garlicky oil, these beautifully blistered Chinese restaurant-style dry-fried green beans are a scene-stealing side that’s ready in a flash.

Because We Can’t Order Take Out EVERY Night.

Our Sichuan-style (also spelled Szechuan) green beans recipe is inspired by the deliciously blistered Chinese-style green beans that are included in every take-out order we place, because they’re just too good. Ultra-flavorful, usually pretty spicy and super garlicky, too, we just had to figure out how to how to fry green beans at home the way that our favorite Chinese restaurant does. Turns out, the secret to getting that uniquely crispy, chewy texture is a stir-frying technique called “dry-frying”.

dry fried green beans in a skillet with dried chillies and sliced garlic cloves

Don’t Fear the Dry-Fry!

If you’ve mastered the stir-fry—or, if not “mastered” it, at least tried it a few times—you’ll be pretty comfortable with dry-frying. Dry-fried green beans are probably the most well-known dish—at least in the U.S.—that is made using this unique, Sichuan-style cooking technique. Taking a moment to get a handle on this simple skill will ensure that your Chinese-style green beans come out blistered and beautiful. Dry-frying is: 

  • Quick, but not TOO quick. The dry-fry is a technique that intentionally dries out the food that’s being cooked—in this case to make our spicy green beans recipe. Stir frying the green beans in hot oil causes them to release moisture and take on a crisp-chewy texture. 
  • Oily, yes, but not greasy. We love the rich, nutty flavor of toasted sesame oil, but plain vegetable oil has a much higher smoke point, so there will be less smoke in your house when making a stir-fry like this. You can use either for this dish, OR split the difference and use a little of each—flavor from the sesame oil, and a raised smoke point thanks to the vegetable oil. Win-win!
  • Admittedly, kind of splatter-y. So keep the kids far away from the stove. Hot oil + kids = so many tears, and SO much mom guilt. 

Sichuan? Szechuan?—Please Explain.  

Broadly speaking, when you see the word Sichuan or Szechuan being used to describe a dish, you can expect some degree of spicy heat. Sichuan (this spelling is used interchangeably with “Szechuan” as both are just English-language phonetic spellings of the Chinese character for this part of China: 四川) is a province in southwestern China that is well-known for its agricultural bounty, and especially associated with its famous red peppercorns (hua jiao). We like to work with those unusual peppercorns sometimes—who doesn’t love a fun new ingredient?—but for this dry-fried green beans recipe we’ve opted to approximate their heat with the easier-to-find heat of regular old red pepper flakes. 

ingredients for Chinese dried fried green beans garlic, peppers, sesame oil, soy sauce

How To Make Dry-Fried Green Beans

Our riff on this Chinese green bean stir-fry recipe is all about simplicity. A lot of dry-fried green bean recipes call for you to first fry the Asian-style green beans in a lot of oil, then drain the oil and quickly cook the blistered beans with lots of garlic, chili peppers and soy sauce. But, seriously, who has the time to deal with draining super-hot oil and making that kind of mess? We’ve streamlined the journey from fresh green beans to dry-fried green beans, and they’re still gorgeously, crisp and super delicious. Here’s how to make Chinese-style green beans using those newly-minted dry-fry skills:

  1. Wash & trim your green beans. Any green bean will work fine for this stir fry—haricot verts, string beans or even Chinese-style long (also knowns as yard-long) beans.  
  2. Get your oil good and hot! Medium-high heat. 
  3. When it’s hot and glistening, add your green beans. Keep them moving around in the pan until they’re blistered and crispy. 
  4. Add everything else to the pan and give it all a quick stir-fry to infuse the garlic and chilies into the oil. 
  5. Serve!

Tools You’ll Need: 

Other Quick & Easy Asian-Inspired Recipes To Try Tonight! 

So, Did You Give Dry-Fry a Try?

It’s so good, right? Snap a photo of your Chinese-style dry-fried green beans and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you shared them with. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Chinese Dry-Fried Green Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

3/4 lb green beans
2 tbsp sesame oil or vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or 12 dried chili peppers
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (if gluten free)
1 tsp sugar

Method

  1. Wash, pat dry and trim the tops off of the green beans.
  2. In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans to the oil and stir fry them for 8 minutes stirring often until they are blistered and but remain slightly crunchy.
  3. While still over the heat add the garlic, chili peppers, sugar and soy sauce to the pan and toss for 1 minutes longer. Serve warm!