Posted by: Hil | July 16, 2008

Szechuan Green Beans


I had one of my all-time favorite vegetable side dishes for dinner tonight–Szechuan green beans.  The “main course” was some lean steak (beautifully grilled by the husband), but the green beans definitely stole the show for me tonight.  This is one of those vegetable recipes that makes everyone come back for seconds, but if you do manage to escape with any leftovers, they are also delicious cold.  I originally got the recipe from Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka, although the version below is paraphrased and reflects my own small modifications.

Szechuan Green Beans
based on a recipe in Barbara Kafka’s Microwave Gourmet

6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger, peeled
2 scallions
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp hot red-pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tamari soy
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 pound green beans, tipped and tailed

First, very finely chop the garlic, ginger and scallions and combine them in a small bowl with the vegetable oil and red-pepper flakes.  Microwave the mixture for 2-3 minutes.


To save myself some chopping, I crushed the garlic with my garlic press and used chopped ginger from a jar.  Although fresh ginger is of course the best, I find that I’m never able to use it up before it goes bad.  The stuff in the jar is much better substitute than the dried powder stuff, and it’s nice not to need to grate or chop anything!


Next, add the tamari and rice wine vinegar.  Put the green beans in a microwave proof container and pour the mixture over the green beans.  Stir to combine.


Cook the mixture in the microwave.  The original recipe says to cook them for 15 minutes, but that sounds like way too much to me.  This might be because microwaves weren’t nearly as powerful back when the cookbook was written.  How much you should cook them depends on the power of your microwave (this varies a LOT), the thickness of your green beans, and how cooked you like your green beans.  I like my green beans a bit more cooked in this recipe than I typically do.  Normally, I always try to cook green beans minimally to preserve the beautiful bright green color, but in this recipe, the ingredients just work better together when the green beans are on the soft side.  I probably cooked these for 7 or 8 minutes total, starting with three minutes and then checking periodically.  I think that they could have easily taken a bit more cooking time and still been delicious, but the husband was in a rush to eat his steak.  You may want less or more time.  You can serve these either hot or cold.




  1. I love szechuan – what a fabulous recipe! And cooking it in the microwave? I’m all for that. Is that cookbook still available?

  2. I used my mother’s ancient copy, but according to a quick google search, it looks like it was republished recently: it’s in stock on Amazon.

    It’s a popular enough book that you could probably find it at your local library if you don’t want to buy it.

    Happy eating!

  3. Those look great!

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