Crunchy Szechuan green beans

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These zesty beans make a great side dish or a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes or Chinese chili paste with garlic to suit your desire for heat.

 

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound green beans, trimmed

1/3 cup coarsely chopped onion

¼ cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark (Asian) sesame oil

1 tablespoon water, or as needed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste with garlic, or to taste

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beans and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are crisp-tender and blackened in spots, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their thickness.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining ingredients, except the sesame seeds, in a small bowl. Stir in more water as needed until the sauce has a cake-batter consistency. Set aside.

Remove the beans from the heat. Add the sauce and stir until the beans are evenly coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the beans to a platter and garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Advance preparation

The beans can be prepared up to 1 day in advance; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for serving.

Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.