Leftover Green Beans with Soy Pork

This Chinese recipe for green bean stir fry shows one of the food rules I like to teach: pork and green stuff work well together. Every culture pairs them (bacon and cabbage! Ham and peas! Frisee lettuce and lardons!). Sweet and/or bitter greens both work well against strong flavoured, fatty pork. Hell, that’s why I love adding peas to chowder

Stir Fry is an excellent book to learn about Chinese cuisine; it’s simple and the recipes work. I avoided cooking Chinese food for a long time as I couldn’t afford all the flavours and vinegars. Living on a budget means not having a larder stuffed so you can cook Italian, Japanese, Ghanaian or Nordic cuisine on any given day. Right now, greens are great and I know I’m cooking a lot of Chinese cuisine. This means I can justify the rice wines and whatnot. I know that I’ll use up the little bottles before moving on to different flavours – and not necessarily replacing the oyster sauce or rice vinegar when I finish it.

Inspiration isn’t easy to come by when you’re buying the same veg week in, week out. Starting with using up half a packet of green beans in a new way is a great place to start. Or try a veg box; or buy two things from a farmers market; or take a punt on a large £1 scoop of a veg you might not usually try. You might be surprised. You’ll never know unless you try, right?

If you like the look of this recipe but don’t have green beans, then use runner beans, or maybe even some sliced hardy greens or peas. I don’t know if that’s authentic, but it’ll use up those veg or that meat, it’ll get everyone fed and it’ll taste great.

Leftover green beans with soy pork

Adapted, barely, from 'Minced Soy Pork', Ching-He Huang, 'Stir Fry', p173


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional, if cooking for kids)
  • 200 grams minced pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce/tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • around 200 grams leftover green beans cut into 2.5 cm slices
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce/shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour, blended with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  • knife and chopping board
  • wok
  • measuring jug
  • ramikin/little bowl
  • measuring jug

To serve

  • jasmine rice or noodles


Prepare the noodles or rice

  • Cook as per packet instructions
  • If you haven't already, blend the cornflour and water.


  • Cut the beans into 2.5cm slices. Slice the garlic and chilli, if using.


  • Heat the wok over a high heat until smoking and add the oil. Add the garlic and chilli (if using) and toss for a few seconds to release the flavour. Add the pork and let it settle in the wok for about 30 seconds to brown and sear and then stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the five spice powder and season with the dark soy/tamari. Toss until the pork turns rich brown and then season deglaze the wok with the Shaohsing rice wine/sherry.
  • Add the beans and toss for 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to the boil, then season with the light soy sauce and stir in the blended cornflour. Add a twist of black pepper and season with the toasted sesame oil


  • You can stir in a lidded container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

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