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October 15, 2012

My failed attempt to reconstruct gan bian si ji dou has given birth to a new dish

I have an endless list of Chinese dishes that I love. One dish in particular had undoubtedly left me mesmerized.Gan bian si ji dou (Dry Fried String Beans) is a popular Sichuan vegetable dish but can be found anywhere in China.I remember eating it a lot in Chinese open air restaurants right across from my workplace. I had been searching for the recipe for so long  but was unsuccessful. A few months ago, I signed up to follow a blog by an American who is a Professor of  Chinese and now in China traveling.  Last month, he  blogged about this string beans dish with the name in Chinese and English. Boy, I was so happy I was able to find the recipe online.

I cooked the dish but  it yield a different result as I lack the right ingredients. The new dish turned out good though.

300 g string beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch segments
200 g soft tofu ( the original recipe calls for ground pork)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3  TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP cornstarch
2-3 TBSP sesame oil
ground black pepper
oil for frying

 Mash the soft tofu. Marinate it in soy sauce and corn starch. Set aside.

Heat the oil in the pan. I don't use thermometer to check the oil's temperature but when I see some smoke coming of the pan and when the oil swirl by itself,  I know it's ready.

Gently slide the beans in the pan. Cook them in batches  to make sure the oil doesn't cool off too quickly. Frying should take about a minute or two if the oil is hot enough. If the oil is too hot, it will scorch the beans. If this happens, remove them immediately. Wait til the oil cool down a bit before returning the beans to pan.

When the beans start to wrinkle and whiten, remove from heat. Do the taste test. The beans should be crisp.Drain on paper towel or into metal strainer. I set aside the beans into a plastic colander after draining on paper towels. I just don't like leaving food on greasy paper towels. Pour off oil into another container.

Return pan to medium heat. Add about 2-3 tablespoon of sesame oil. Before pan begins to smoke add  mashed tofu. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.Add the garlic, stir fry until fragrant. Add fried string beans. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Do the taste test and adjust the seasoning if needed.

 Transfer onto a plate. Serve immediately!

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