Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Szechuan Beans

I am going to start this post off by giving a brief shout out to Alex.  Last weekend we went to Cincinnati to visit his family.  We were supposed to make these green beans Wednesday night, but we had tickets to a show and too much going on to make them before the show, so it didn't happen.  Then we were going to make them Thursday night, but we had laundry to do and we just totally forgot.  Friday morning I looked in the fridge and realized that we had forgotten to make the green beans, but I had to run off to work.  So poor Alex got to hang out at home and make them that morning.  And they were way more labor intensive than I had realized.  Oops.  Thanks (and sorry) hon!  Actually, I end up doing that to him a lot - giving him a recipe and having him prep and start dinner for us while I rush home, only to realize that I never really read the recipe in the first place and it is way too labor intensive for a random Wednesday night when I don't get home until 9:00 pm.  So thanks for being such a good sport!

Now, back to the green beans.  I really wanted to like these green beans because the recipe sounded so promising, but they were a little too harsh for me.  The vinegar flavor was just really strong, although the flavor that really lingered on your palate after the quick burn of the vinegar was the sesame oil.  Alex says he wishes they had a little less sesame and a little more heat.  The write-up on Serious Eats was just so complimentary that I really expected to love the beans, but they left me feeling a little lackluster when eaten on their own.  We have another jar in the fridge that I think I will use as a garnish for soup or noodles.  We had a noodle dish while ago at Mission Chinese Food (see our post here) that combined soba noodles with radish, pear and cilantro that I thought was mighty tasty.  Perhaps we could make our own riff on it and use the remaining green beans?  Maybe it was a little silly on our part to expect them to stand entirely on their own...

Recipe after the jump!

Szechuan Beans
Available at Serious Eats

1 pound green beans, washed, topped, and tailed
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
1 (1-inch) knob ginger, sliced into coins
2 garlic cloves, sliced

Line several baking sheets with dish towels and set aside. Prepare and ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the beans into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.

Scoop the beans out with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching in batches. Remove the beans from the ice bath with a slotted spoon and spread on the towel-covered baking sheets. Blot dry.

To make the pickled, pack the beans vertically in a quart jar.

Combine the vinegar, water, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, peppercorns, ginger, and garlic in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot brine over the beans to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.

Cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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