The green beans at Wu Chow might be some of the best in Austin. I grew up eating simmered, canned green beans, but I came to sauteing them in garlic and butter as an adult. That simple preparation is still one of my favorites, but at a recent lunch at Wu Chow, I tried the downtown restaurant’s dry-fried green beans, locally sourced vegetables that are blanched and then cooked over super-high heat in a light stir-fry sauce.
The crisp beans and umami-rich dressing are spot-on, but to make it exactly like the restaurant does, you’ll need two ingredients that might not already be in your pantry: fermented mustard greens and mushroom powder. You can buy both at Asian markets, or with the help of the internet, you could make your own. However, even without those two additions, this method of cooking and the ingredients in the sauce will add a fresh spin to one of summer’s best side dishes.
Dry-Fried Green Beans
1 pound green beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mushroom powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup fermented mustard greens, chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
Place a large pot with 4 cups of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Rinse the green beans and cut the beans into 2-inch lengths. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans and blanch them for 2 minutes. Once blanched, remove from boiling water and cover beans with ice.
In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, rice wine, black pepper, garlic, mushroom powder, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
After the beans have cooled, remove beans from ice bath and dry well. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the green beans, mustard greens, green onions and stir-fry sauce, keeping the beans constantly moving, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the outsides begin to blister and the beans are wilted. Turn off the heat, transfer to a plate and serve hot.
— From Wu Chow