I wanted a side dish to go with my Chinese steamed chicken. Jan suggested one of my cheesy cauliflower dishes. While those are popular in my house, they are not very Chinese.
Note: You may, or may not, have noticed that I have not posted recently. I was writing a post on Japanese pickles last Wednesday and I started getting a “your hard drive is about to crash!” notice. I keep my computer virus free, so I took it seriously. I now have a new hard drive, but I am not quite back to normal yet.
I was at the farmer’s market buying the cauliflower and there were these green beans just calling to me. So into the dish they went. Jan and I used to live in Chengdu, so a Sichuan sauce seemed like just the thing to marry these two vegetables.
Recently, I made a Jordanian cauliflower. I liked the flavor that the roasting technique added to the vegetables. Even though it is not a Chinese technique, I decided to use it for this dish.
One of our favorite dishes from a local Chinese restaurant is dry fried green beans. They make it with Sichuan pickle and it pairs very well with the green beans. I happen to like Sichuan pickle, a lot, so I decided to add it to the dish as well.
Karl’s Sichuan Cauliflower and Green Beans
1 head cauliflower
2 Tbs. peanut oil, separate uses
1 Tbs. sesame oil, separate uses
½ lb. blue lake green beans
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Green onions, minced
2 Tbs. chili garlic sauce
2 Tbs. light soy sauce
1 Tbs. dark soy sauce
1 inch ginger root, minced
1 Tbs. Sichuan pepper, separate uses
¼ cup Sichuan pickles
1. Cut the cauliflower into medium/small florets.
2. Brush a shallow baking dish with one tablespoon of peanut oil and set it in a 500° F oven to preheat.
Tip: Set the oven rack to its highest level before turning on the oven.
3. Remove the baking dish from the oven and arrange the cauliflower in a single layer.
Tip: The dish will be very hot, be careful. The hot dish ensures that the vegetables will roast, not steam in their own juices.
4. Mix two tablespoons of peanut oil with one tablespoon of sesame oil and lightly brush the cauliflower with half of it. Dust the cauliflower with some pepper.
5. Put the baking dish into the oven switch the oven setting from Bake to Broil. Broil the cauliflower for 30 minutes.
Tip: The point here is to get the cauliflower well browned, but not burnt. Keep a close eye on the cauliflower during the last five minutes of broiling.
6. Rinse, stem and cut the green beans into 1-2 inch pieces.
7. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch the green beans for two minutes.
8. Drain the green beans and put them in cool water to prevent them from over cooking.
Tip: The green beans will not be roasted as long as the cauliflower. This step ensured that the beans cook through, without drying out and becoming tough.
9. Add the remaining oil mixture to the small pan and lightly sauté the garlic and green onion, about one to two minutes.
10. Add the chili garlic sauce, light and dark soy sauces, ginger root, half of the Sichuan pepper, and the Sichuan pickles to the pot. Cook the sauce, stirring, for 30 seconds to meld.
11. Remove the pot from the heat and add the green beans, toss to combine and coast the green beans.
12. Spoon the green beans and sauce evenly over the cauliflower and reduce the heat to 400° F.
Note: Switch the heating elements back to Bake.
13. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the green beans are tender.
14. Serve directly in the casserole dish.
Tip: Be careful it is hot!