Long Bean Stir Fry

Chinese long beans

Chinese long bean stir fry

This simple dish was a favorite of mine from my earliest childhood. It makes a excellent one-dish accompaniment to steamed rice. This very tasty dish is prepared by cutting Chinese long beans into tiny pieces and stir frying them with other vegetables and a small amount of meat. The secret is to cut everything into similarly-sized small pieces and cooking each ingredient separately so that none are overcooked. Feel free to indulge your creativity by substituting or adding ingredients.

In the past, dried black mushrooms were standard, but I’m especially fond of fresh shiitakes which are now widely available. Dried radish may be difficult to locate except in areas with large Asian populations. Do try to find them because they add a nice crunchiness to the dish. Traditionally, a small amount of chopped up char siu (sweet barbequed pork) is included, but feel free to substitute chicken or shrimp, or omit the meat altogether. Pine nuts were one of my mom’s favorite ingredients. Toasting the pine nuts enhances their flavor. Other possible ingredients are cut corn, chives, onions, cashews, and bell peppers.

Chinese long beans are available in Asian markets year round, but they are especially delicious in the summer months. Their flavor is similar to western green beans, although they are not of the same genus. Long beans are harvested in the immature state when they are about one and a half feet long (about half a meter). The color varies from light green to dark green, and some varieties are purple.


Shoppers inspect Chinese long beans at San Francisco’s Stonestown Farmers Market.

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Long Bean Stir Fry 炒豆角粒
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Cantonese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ¾ pounds (340 g) long beans
  • ½ cup dried radish (菜脯)
  • 3.5 ounces (100 g) char siu (叉燒)
  • 6 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1-2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
  1. Wash the long beans thoroughly in cold water. Trim off the ends then cut into small half-inch (1.25 cm) pieces.
  2. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over low to medium heat. Toss the nuts frequently to ensure even browning and to prevent burning. The toasted nuts should be medium brown, slightly firm, and have a roasted flavor. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
  3. Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or skillet. Stir fry the mushrooms until done: about 2 minutes for fresh shiitakes, half a minute for reconstituted black mushrooms. Add a little salt then transfer to a dish.
  4. Heat some more oil in the wok and toss in the long beans. Stir fry for about 3 minutes.The beans should be starting to get tender, becoming slightly brown. Add salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, and broth and mix.
  5. Add the char siu, mushrooms, and dried radish. Continue stir frying for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, then combine the pine nuts into mixture, plate and serve.

Instead of char siu, try chicken meat, chicken gizzards and livers (my mom was fond of these), fresh or dried shrimp, or omit the meat entirely.

Dried radishes may be difficult to locate and there is no adequate substitute. Leaving it out will eliminate one of the textural elements of the dish, but it'll be delicious nonetheless.

Experiment with additional ingredients: cut corn, chives, onions, cashews, bell peppers.

Ingredients for stir fried long beans. Clockwise from top left: fresh shiitake mushrooms, long beans, dried radishes, char siu. Center: toasted pine nuts.