Three Ways With… French Beans

French Beans

Although French beans are delicious simply steamed, or eaten raw, they’re great in spicy dishes. Why not try adding Chinese or Indian flavours for a tasty side tonight?

Sichuan French Beans
With a number of large Chinese stores opening in Sheffield, cooking Chinese at home isn’t as difficult as it once was. Having said that, if there’s an ingredient you can’t find, just leave it out. You will still have a tasty dish.
450g French beans
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
75g unsmoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, deseeded and chopped, or ½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp of Sichuan preserved mustard green leaves, or ya cai – try using Chinese preserved vegetables if you cannot find ya cai
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine/shaoxing wine
1½ tsp soy sauce
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

1) Heat a wok over a high heat and add the oil once it’s just starting to smoke.
2) Add the French beans and salt. Turn the heat down to low and cook the greens until they are starting to scorch a little but take care not to burn them. This could take up to 20 minutes.
3) Once the beans are cooked, remove from the wok and set aside.
4) Turn the heat to medium and, if needed, add a little more oil, then add the bacon.
5) Add the garlic and chilli and stir fry for 30 seconds or so – until you can smell their aromas.
6) Add the ya cai and stir everything together as you cook for a further minute.
7) Toss in the green beans, cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stir to heat everything through and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from The Woks of Life.

Indian French Beans
You’ll find fresh curry leaves in one of our neighbouring stores and they really are worth seeking out. Asafoetida is a pungent spice available in most major supermarkets. It adds a delicious onion-garlic flavour, but you can leave it out if you prefer.
250g French beans, roughly chopped
2 tsp rapeseed oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds, yellow or brown would also be fine
2½ tbsp chana dal or yellow split lentils, soaked in cold water for 2-3 hours and drained
5 fresh curry leaves
¼ tsp asafoetida
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
Salt for seasoning
¼ tsp turmeric
15g grated coconut
Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

1) Heat the oil in a medium pan over a high heat and add the mustard seeds.
2) Once the seeds start to pop, turn the heat down to medium low and add the lentils, curry leaves, asafoetida and chillies. Stir everything together and cook for a few seconds.
3) Mix in the French beans, salt and a splash of water.
4) Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a little more water if the ingredients start sticking to the pan.
5) Once the beans are cooked through, add the coconut and coriander and stir everything through over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
6) Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from

French Beans with Toasted Garlic and Almonds
450g French beans
1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
75g almond flakes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Salt and pepper for seasoning

1) If you’re buying French beans whilst they’re fresh and in season, you won’t need to pre-cook them. However, if they are a little tough, simply steam for 2-3 minutes, then rest on kitchen paper to dry them.
2) Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the almonds and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to colour.
3) Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so – long enough to release the flavours but taking care not to burn it.
4) Add the green beans and stir to coat. Season to taste and serve warm.

Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash.

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