Thai Green Beans
Since my treehouse days in the woods of Oklahoma I have thought there was only one fitting place in this world for green beans. Green Bean Casserole, that heavenly concoction of squishy, flavorless canned green beans mixed with everyone’s favorite hillbilly béchamel, Cream of Mushroom soup topped with canned fried onions.
When I began traveling the world I learned there are many places for green beans in my life and some recipes elicit the same groans of pleasure and sounds of lip smacking as did that yummy casserole-from-a-can from my childhood. This is a stir-fry dish with a smoky heat and an earthy salty sweet flavor thanks to the nam prik pao sauce (Thai roasted chili paste). If you don’t have access to this sauce at your grocery store, you can find it online (link below) or you could substitute Gochujang (Korean), or the brand (who makes Sriracha) Huy Fung’s Chili Garlic Sauce, or their Sambal Olek (Indonesia/Malaysia) or even Ssam Spicy Sauce by Momofuku (Korean). Walmart carries all of these sauces (links below if you need them) which are equally delicious and spicy and similar in flavor profile. You might have to improvise, which is part of the fun of learning to cook well. Make it your own!
You can also use these sauces on just about anything and you’ll need to be prepared to be addicted: scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or pork, roasted cauliflower and hearty soups and stews. We go through sambal olek like most people go through ketchup!
Thai Green Beans
Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is hot and you see light tendrils of smoke, add the garlic and stir constantly for 5 seconds so they won’t burn. Add the green beans and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for 4 minutes.
Stir in the chile paste and stir to coat the green beans and cook another 2 minutes. If the pan gets too hot, sprinkle in a teaspoon of water to prevent the beans from burning. Taste a green bean for doneness, it should be crisp-tender, not soggy and not crunchy. If done, turn off heat, add fish sauce and stir to coat the beans. Serve warm.
3 Tablespoons peanut oil or avocado oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half (please don’t use canned green beans!)
3 Tablespoons nam prik pao; substitute Gochuchang (Korean), Sambal Olek (Malaysian) or even Shriracha if that’s all you have access to
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (Red Boat is best and GF)
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