Recipe Sleuth: The Source’s Szechuan Green Beans

These spicy green beans are how diners start their meals at Wolfgang Puck's Penn Quarter restaurant. Now you can replicate them in your own kitchen.

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck knows how to get diners’ attention. At the Source, his Asian-accented eatery adjacent to the Newseum, executive chef Scott Drewno trumpets the start of a meal not with a bread basket but with an amuse-bouche of Szechuan-style green beans. Here’s how to make them.

Have a recipe you’d like sniffed out? E-mail recipesleuth@washingtonian.com.

Szechuan Green Beans

Prepare the dressing:

¼ cup sweet soy sauce (Drewno recommends Maggi brand)
1 tablespoon Szechuan chili sauce
1 tablespoon ginger vinegar (available at Asian supermarkets; rice vinegar may be substituted)
1 ounce peanut oil
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Candy the walnuts:

¼ cup walnuts
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 quart peanut oil

In a small pot, bring the water to a boil and blanch the walnuts until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the water, and while the nuts are still hot, add the powdered sugar. Coat the walnuts until the sugar is dissolved completely, giving the walnuts a glossy look and making sure no sugar lumps remain.

Heat the oil in a pot or fryer to 325 degrees and fry the sugar-coated walnuts until they turn a light golden brown. Remove from the oil and set aside.

Make the green beans:

1 cup green beans
2 tablespoons peanut oil
¼ cup candied walnuts, lightly crumbled
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion
2 teaspoons mixed black and white sesame seeds, toasted
¼ cup dressing
Pinch ground Szechuan pepper
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch sugar

Prepare the green beans:

Stir-fry the green beans with the peanut oil in a wok over high heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Place the beans on cooling rack and season with the Szechuan pepper, salt, and sugar. While they’re still warm, toss the beans with ¼ cup of the dressing. Garnish the beans with the walnuts, scallion, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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