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next stop: autumn an end-of-the-season  grill menu
by Yee-Fan Sun
 | 1 2

In most parts of the country, the last days of steamy temps, late sunsets, and pool weather have said their good-byes; instead pumpkins, fallen leaves and shorter days loom on the horizon. Even here in the sunny southwest, I can feel the difference: it's finally cooled down enough that I can spend time on my patio without feeling like I'm being broiled alive by the brutal summer sun. Whether you're hanging on to the last vestiges of warm days, or taking advantage of the beginnings of comfortable weather, now's a great time to be doing a little backyard (or balcony) grilling. This simple, flavorful menu pairs a miso-marinated salmon with sweet-and-spicy green beans -- perfect for a Sunday dinner with just your sweetie, or a casual get-together with friends.

spicy twice-cooked green beans
This Chinese recipe is one of my favorite ways to do green beans - albeit, far from the healthiest. The technique involves first deep-frying the beans, then stir-frying them with garlic and other goodies. The result is perfectly tender, highly-flavored beans that are so good it's hard not to inhale them off the plate.

1 lb. green beans
vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks scallions
tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
toasted sesame oil (optional)

serves 2-3 as a side dish
time 30 minutes

Snap off the tops and tails of the green beans and discard. Wash the beans, then drain them well by placing the beans in a colander and topping the colander with a towel. Holding the towel on tight, give the colander a few vigorous shakes.

Pour oil to about a 3/4" depth in your wok. Heat up the oil; when a green bean sizzles when dropped into the oil, you're reading to start frying. Fry up the beans in small batches -- I generally find it takes about four batches to do a pound -- making sure that the oil covers the beans while you're cooking. Fry each batch for about five minutes or so, until the beans are wrinkly on the outside and just beginning to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.

Once you're done cooking, let the oil sit for at least 10 minutes or so, to avoid dribbling sizzling hot oil all over your hands. Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic, and chop up all but the bottom inch or two of the scallions.

When the oil has cooled down a bit, pour off all but a teaspoon or so of the oil into a glass jar; you can save the used oil in the fridge for future deep-frying needs. Heat up the remaining oil, then stir-fry the garlic, crushed red pepper and scallions for a couple of minutes, until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the green beans and stir-fry another minute or so. Pour in the soy sauce and the sugar and stir well to coat. Remove from heat, and adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Just before serving, drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil -- you can skip this if you're worried about the dish being too oil-drenched already, but it does add a nice aroma and flavor.

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