Din Tai Fung is a world-class Taiwanese restaurant, best known for their soupy dumplings (xiao long bao). The first restaurant opened in Taipei in 1980, and at one point was included on the New York Times list of the top ten restaurants in the world. They expanded to the US in 2000, setting up shop in Arcadia, CA, and due to their popularity – the wait to get seated is frequently more than an hour – have since opened three more locations in Southern California. But the competition for soupy dumplings is intense in the San Gabriel Valley, and what keeps Din Tai Fung at the top of many people’s list are some of the other items on their menu. For me, that item is the green beans with garlic.
It’s simple, but Din Tai Fung executes it perfectly. The beans are crispy with a blistered skin, garnished with minced garlic, Taiwanese pickles and a touch of salt. Once I start eating them, I can’t stop! After deconstructing the recipe years ago, I have been making these green beans at home for my family, and I think my version is pretty darned close to Din Tai Fung’s. The trick to achieving the blistered skin is to flash-fry the green beans before sautéing them. Give them a try – I hope you’ll love them as much as I do!
Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic
Serving Size: 4 (side dish)
1/2 pound of organic green beans (cleaned and trimmed)
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil (for deep frying)
1 tablespoon of minced Taiwanese pickled cucumbers or pickled turnips*
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
Kosher salt or sea salt
1. After washing, cut the green beans in half and dry with paper towels. Make sure they are completely dry – it will affect the flash-frying process.
2. Line a large colander with a few paper towels. Set near the frying area.
3. In a large wok or enamel coated cast iron pan, bring the oil to 350°. I use a candy thermometer for this step, but if you have an electric fryer, you could use that instead.
4. As soon as the oil reaches 350°, add 1/3 of the green beans to the oil and fry for approximately 30 seconds. This is a critical step, as it is how to achieve the blistering effect while keeping the crunchy texture. If the green beans are fried too long, they will lose their crispness, and if too many green beans are fried at once, the oil temperature will drop and the skin will not blister.
5. Using a spider strainer or tongs, transfer the beans to the colander to drain the oil.
6. Bring the oil back up to 350° and repeat this process two more times, frying 1/3 of the green beans each time.
7. Heat a large sauté pan on high and add one tablespoon of oil. Immediately add the Taiwanese pickled cucumbers and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and sauté for 15 more seconds. Add all the green beans, sprinkle with salt, and sauté everything together for 30 seconds. Make sure the green beans are coated with garlic and pickles.
8. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately with rice and your choice of protein.
*You can find them in any Chinese grocery store.
For more information on the restaurant, you can visit their website: http://dintaifungusa.com