All summer long we’ve enjoyed a pretty substantial haul of green beans from our garden. Using them in a variety of ways (including giving them away), one of my faves is this Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe that highlights the veggie, instead of relegating it to a back seat. With relatively few main ingredients, and a handful of flavoring elements, this dinner comes together in no time.
Did you know green beans don’t count in the “beans and peas” category in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? In fact, the difference between a legume and a bean is that a legume is a class of vegetables that includes beans. Although beans are always legumes, not all legumes are beans. Confusing? Who really cares, unless of course you have some dietary restriction that prohibits you from eating them…
Now back to the recipe… Shaoxing wine, a Chinese fermented rice wine, is the secret sauce that makes this recipe sing. It’s pretty easy to find at Asian markets, but don’t confuse it with rice vinegar! If you see bottles labeled “rice cooking wine” without the Shaoxing designation, they will work too. While you can substitute dry sherry, keep in mind, nothing else achieves quite the same flavor.
When making a stir-fry, it’s essential that you prep everything ahead of time because once you start cooking, there’s precious little time to do anything but flip the spatula around. And it’s always a good idea to have your vent system going full blast as a stir-fry emits a lot of smoke. (When we first moved into this house, we didn’t have a good hooded vent system over the stovetop and we use to set off the fire alarm every time we stir-fried!)
If the slices of ginger are too large for your taste, go ahead and chop them down to your preference—we happen to like the larger discs. For the garni, I used both chopped roasted cashews and some scallion greens that I saved and sliced into thin rounds just for that purpose.
Oh, and the stir-fry makes for fabulous leftovers the next day if you happen to have any remaining…
Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry
1.75 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, thinly sliced across the grain into bite-size strips
1 Tbsp. cornstarch, (more for a slurry if necessary)
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, (more if desired)
4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
3 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
8 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
12 oz. green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise (about 4 cups)
Steamed white rice, chopped toasted cashews or peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or thinly sliced fresh chiles (for serving; optional)
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice, made according to package directions, preferably with homemade chicken stock
- Make steamed rice according to package directions but use chicken stock (preferably homemade) in place of water.
- Toss chicken, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and 1½ Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl.
- Stir vinegar, wine, and remaining 2½ Tbsp. soy sauce in a small bowl. Have all your other ingredients prepped and ready to go (once you start cooking, there isn’t a stopping point and you’ll need them handy).
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large wok over high heat. When oil is shimmering and slides quickly around the surface of the pan, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing, until scallions are browned and softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add green beans, another 1 Tbsp. of oil and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until green beans are crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer green bean mixture to a medium bowl.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same wok over high. When oil is shimmering again, add chicken mixture and arrange slices in a single layer in skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until chicken is browned and caramelized on first side, about 1-2 minutes.
- Toss and continue to cook until meat is no longer pink and cooked through, about a minute or two longer.
- Pour in wine mixture and green bean mixture and cook, tossing briskly, until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, about 30 seconds. (If sauce hasn’t thickened, make a small amount of corn starch slurry and stir in.) Remove from heat and taste, then season with more salt, if desired.
- Divide steamed rice among plates, serve stir-fry over rice, and sprinkle with desired toppings.
Roughly adapted from a recipe by Claire Saffitz from bon appétit