Spicy, Dry Sautéed Long Beans (Szechuan String Beans)

spicy, dry sautéed long beans

Back in the day, no takeout order of mine was complete without these beans. Even if accompanied by a bowl of rice alone, I’d be a happy girl. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to find a gluten-free version — not even P.F. Chang’s serves ’em — to satiate my spicy long bean cravings.

Traditionally served during Chinese New Year — now in full swing — they symbolize a long life. Plus, this version has quite a bit of fire (heat) to it which is especially apropos, right? It is the Year of the Dragon after all. Gōng hè xīn xǐ (Happy New Year)!

Spicy, Dry Sautéed Long Beans

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 – 10 minutes

Serves: 2+ as a side


  • 8 ounces trimmed long beans, cut into about 4″ lengths
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) peanut oil¹
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) untoasted sesame oil¹
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) gluten-free soy sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) water
  • Plum sauce or hoisin sauce² (optional)


Heat a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add long beans to pan and sauté until beans are mostly dry and slightly blackened in spots. Carefully (any remaining water will cause the oil to splatter) stir in peanut and sesame oil, coating beans; reduce heat to medium and sprinkle in ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring/tossing constantly, until garlic is lightly golden. Add soy sauce and the water, stir to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover pan and steam beans just until tender (2-5 minutes), stirring or shaking pan every minute or so. Remove lid and let any remaining water evaporate. Remove from heat and season to taste with additional soy sauce and, if desired plum or hoisin sauce (about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon — for a touch of sweetness). Serve immediately.


¹ If desired, you may substitute the peanut and sesame oil with 1 tablespoon (14 grams) strained chili-scallion oil.

² A lot of hoisin sauce is made with wheat — this one by Wok Mei is a good, gluten-free option.

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  • Reply
    Kiri W.
    January 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Oh, I love these! 🙂 I had so many of these in China. Looks like a delicious version, though I can’t ever find long beans in regular stores!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I found long beans a while back when I was in Pittsburg in the produce section and they were sealed with a long sell by date so I bought them and brought them home in a cooler. I love this recipe. I have trouble finding long beans here where I live but not gluten-fee soy sauce. Go figure.

  • Reply
    heather sage
    January 28, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Kiri: Aren’t they addictive?! I know I’m lucky to live in an area with several Asian grocery stores to choose from, plus a Whole Foods that stocks them on occasion. Perhaps another item for your future garden 🙂 (http://rareseeds.com/vegetablesa-c/beans/long-beans.html).

    Suzi: It’s always entertaining to me what stores choose to stock. As a former east-coast girl living in California, there have certainly been times where I’ve not been able to find products that were once readily available. Something extra to look forward to when I’m out for a visit :).

    Anyway, I noticed on your blog that you do some gardening, so perhaps the rareseeds.com link above would be useful to you, too!

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