Green beans typically are not the most memorable part of a meal. On their own, their mild flavor often takes a back seat to other, more assertively flavored ingredients or dishes.

Typically steamed, boiled or sautéed, the mildness of beans makes them a good choice for kids who are being coaxed into eating their veggies. But grown-up palates may long for something more interesting, and Blistered Green Beans with Red Chile and Crispy Shallots certainly delivers.

I was well into adulthood before I tried the stir-fried (or blistered) green beans from my favorite Chinese restaurant. Cooked in an ultrahot wok, these flavor-packed beans were charred in spots, which gave them a slight bittersweetness, and tender — even a little shriveled — but not mushy.

The technique turned out to be quick and easy, making it the go-to method whenever I'm serving green beans.

I start with soaking my green beans in cold water. Actually, I do this no matter how I'm cooking them, as it livens up even the less-than-fresh beans, giving them an added crispness.

From there, they go right into a hot skillet or wok, along with a little oil and salt, and are cooked until they are dark brown in spots. Smaller beans may get wrinkly and softer than the bigger ones, but that's OK. A little textural variety is nice.

While they don't need anything else to be delicious, sometimes I like to take them a step or two further and give them a Southeast Asian twist. To do this, I add a little fish sauce, lime juice and a hot red chile at the end of the cooking process. I also fry some thinly sliced shallots (in the same skillet, so no extra cleanup) to sprinkle over the top.

The combination results in an addictive dish that will turn even the most vegetable-averse diner into a green bean lover.

Blistered Green Beans with Red Chile and Crispy Shallots

Serves 4.

Note: Blistering green beans is a quick and easy technique that gives them a deliciously charred flavor and a tender, but not mushy, texture. A generous showering of fried shallots is sure to make this side dish the star of the dinner table. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 lb. green beans

• Vegetable oil

• 2 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thinly into rings

• Salt

• 1 tbsp. fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

• 1 tbsp. lime juice

• 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar

• 1 medium red Fresno chile, seeds removed and thinly sliced (leave seeds in if you prefer more heat)


Trim the green beans and place in a large bowl. Cover completely in cold water and let sit while the shallots are being prepared.

Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots turn light golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. (Watch them carefully and pull them from the pan when most of them are light golden, even if some are more pale. They will continue to darken slightly as they sit, and if they get to a dark brown, they will be bitter.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate lined with paper towels. Season lightly with salt.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce or soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and Fresno chile. Set aside.

Thoroughly drain the green beans.

Drain all but one 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet, making sure all the bits of shallots have been removed, and place over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and season lightly with salt. Stir-fry until they are blistered and just tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the fish sauce (or soy sauce) mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute, until the liquid has reduced and green beans are coated.

Transfer the green beans to a serving bowl or plate. Garnish with the fried shallots and serve.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.