Shortly before we left Albania a new Chinese restaurant opened up that reminded me of what I had been missing. I love Chinese food, the spicier and more flavorful the better, but prior to this restaurant’s opening, our options were rather limited and bland. Because of this discovering this restaurant was like nirvana and my family quickly became regulars. While their menu was extensive and varied, the best dishes were those that weren’t on the menu. Our standard method of ordering became a request to the chef to make whatever he recommended for the day. And because the staff knew us and knew that we liked our food hot and spicy, our taste buds always got a workout.
The entrees that came to the table always varied but the one dish that remained a constant was a chili infused green bean dish. We loved it, and as soon as we realized that it was unwise to actually eat the dried peppers that accompanied the beans, we simply couldn’t get enough of them. Unlike so many vegetables in Albania, these weren’t soggy and overcooked. Rather, they were tender crisp and spicy to the bite. We’ve since left Albania and I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant that can replicate these beans. But my attempt is pretty darn close to the real thing. You can adjust the amount of chili peppers to meet your preferences for spice. These proportions make for a heat infused dish so you plan accordingly. Enjoy!
SPICY FLAT BEANS
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes, more or less to taste
2 dried Thai chili peppers, crushed, more or less to taste
1 pound fresh flat beans, rinsed and ends snipped
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Place the sesame oil in a cast iron wok and set over high heat.
- Once the oil shimmers add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and crushed Thai chili peppers. Tossing regularly (bamboo tongs work well), saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the green beans to the wok and toss to coat with the oil and pepper mixture.
- Cook over high heat, tossing regularly for 2-3 minutes or until the beans are tender crisp and cooked to your liking.
- Remove the wok from the heat and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Serve immediately, with or without the chili peppers.