This dish can be made all kinds of better with the addition of pork. But should you not happen to have pork in the fridge, it is just as good as is, and best of all, the ingredients keep indefinitely thank you gods of canning. It happened to be one of my very favorite Szechuan dishes as a kid, and my mom made it faithfully every time I came home to visit. I don’t make it much at home as the flavors are a bit pungent, but your family may be more friendly to it than mine! The beauty of this dish is its simplicity (not just the can factor) – the flavors are very basic and can be easily adjusted to taste. There are three main components:
First, you take a can of Radish Chinois:
You will find this in a Chinese grocery store. It says it is a Chinese radish, which, if you Google it, will probably only turn up daikon, but I am fairly sure it is a pickled Chinese mustard green. This is fairly salty and spicy. When it comes out of the can it looks like this:
Slice the radishes thinly into matchsticks.
Similarly, get yourself a can of bamboo. Being Taiwanese, I am partial to the Wei Chuan brand:
As an added bonus, you can buy this already cut into matchsticks! It’s not cheating, I promise. Drain all the liquid from the bamboo and slice (if necessary) similar to the pickled Chinese radish. This is your slightly bitter but mostly neutral component.
The last ingredient is some string beans pickled in brine. This ingredient is the only ingredient not canned. It is, however, vacuum packed, and as such, lasts indefinitely in your fridge. These brined string beans are severely salty. I would recommend soaking them and rinsing well before cooking with them.
The string beans come out looking like a tangled, Medusa like web of greens. Simply slice them into segments roughly as long as your matchsticks and you’re good to go!
Mince some garlic and brown in some hot vegetable oil.
Add all three chopped ingredients to taste (pickled+spicy/bitter/salty). Stir fry until hot and cooked through – just a few minutes. If you’re doing pork, thinly slice the pork and dredge it in a little cooking wine and cornstarch before stir frying it, for texture. Stir fry it first, then set it aside. Add it at the last minute.
Serve hot with lots of jasmine rice!