A happy marriage of flavors from a really simple dish. Hoisin is a sweet potato based sauce that is used for many things, notably as the sauce in Mu Shu dishes in Chinese restaurants, and seems to be the ketchup of Vietnam, appearing on tables in phở restaurants as a condiment for the noodles and on chicken. It can be found in the Asian foods section of most groceries, and is a great addition to the pantry.
1 pound tender green beans, stemmed, rinsed and dried
2-3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup liquid from a bottle of sushi ginger (“gari” in Japanese),
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled, grated finely on a ginger grater or micro-plane, and squeezed for juice, pulp discarded
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Grapeseed or other neutral oil as needed
Heat a 14 inch skillet or wok (pan should have a lid) over high heat.
When the pan is hot, add enough oil to generously film the pan bottom, about 1/16 inch. When the oil is hot and just about smoking, carefully add the green beans.
Using tongs, turn the beans to coat with the hot oil. Cook the beans turning occasionally, so that the beans brown in spots and wrinkle. Taste a bean after 4 minutes for tenderness. If the beans seem like they are slow to cook through, as if they will burn before getting tender, add the water to the pan and cover tightly. Cook a few more minutes, then taste again. When the beans are tender, remove the tid and boil off any remaining water. Add the Hoisin sauce and toss to coat the beans. Add the pickled ginger juice and again toss to coat thoroughly. Cook until the sauce is thickened and clings to the beans.
Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and serve hot.
YIELD: Serves 4