Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Szechwan Chicken and Green Beans

Crispy, crunchy, SPICY Szechwan Chicken and Green Beans.

Do you have a favorite Chinese dish?  One that you order almost every time you hit your local, favorite Chinese restaurant?  Yeah, me too.  Szechwan Green Beans was always my go-to dish….the one I craved.  Oh sure, I enjoyed General Tso’s or Spicy Orange Beef or Cashew Chicken or Honey Walnut Duck…lots of other dishes, but the one that sang that Asian siren song…the one that lured me in again and again…that was Szechwan Green Beans.

And then I developed this gluten issue.  No more Chinese food.  Well, unless you count P. F. Chang.  Not that I’m complaining about the restaurant, but it isn’t REAL Chinese.  And then.  I found a recipe for the dish I love.  And I made changes.

The only thing that was keeping the restaurant version from being gluten-free was the soy sauce.  Did you know most soy sauce is made with wheat?  So I use a wheat-free tamari sauce instead.  Actually, LaChoy soy sauce is gluten-free (but check the label – you know how things change overnight!), but I’ve never been a fan of that brand – it was Kikkoman I enjoyed.  Wheat-free tamari tastes just like the Kikkoman I loved. 

Over the years, I’ve added this and taken out that, changed pork for chicken (lower fat!), added crunchy water chestnuts for even more crunch with the al dente beans.  I turned it into what I remembered.  Fondly.  Here it is.  Oh, and if you're not eating gluten-free, just use your regular favorite soy sauce!

Szechwan Green Beans with Chicken
Approx. 8 servings
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, gluten-free or wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 8-ouncecan water chestnuts, sliced or diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, wine, sugar, cornstarch, black pepper, pepper flakes, mustard, and water until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet ( I use a LARGE electric skillet...if you have a wok, use it!) over high heat until just smoking.  Add beans and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender and blackened in spots.  Transfer to bowl.
Reduce heat to medium-high and add chicken to skillet.  Saute, breaking up chicken well.  Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly for a few seconds until distributed throughout the chicken.  
Stir sauce again, add beans back into skillet and pour sauce over evenly.  Toss and cook until sauce is thickened a little and completely coats beans and chicken.  Stir in water chestnuts and let heat through.  Just before serving, stir in the green onions and sesame oil.  
Serve immediately over rice.
(Approx. 233 calories and 10 grams total fat per serving.)

NOTE:  I love good brown rice, but hate to make it...takes too damned long and I don't have the patience.  I found frozen COOKED brown rice - just as good as P. F. Chang's! - at Trader Joe's.  I always keep it in my freezer to pull out anytime I need brown rice in a snap!
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