Throw together the easiest 20-minute weeknight side dish with this Asian-style green bean recipe. It only takes 6 ingredients to enjoy perfectly cooked green beans, complemented by tasty soy sauce and then elevated with the perfect amount of spice from some crushed red peppers.
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Frozen green beans that end up tastier and healthier than your favorite Chinese take-out? This simple Asian-style recipe will shock you with how tasty these green beans turn out. With just 6 ingredients, it’s pretty impressive how much flavor is packed into this recipe.
This is the best side dish recipe to use on a weeknight dinner because you just have to grab some green beans out of the freezer and in just 20 minutes, this delicious dish is ready to serve. While these green beans were designed to pair with this Asian-style skirt steak recipe, this tasty side can pair with countless different dishes.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- How to adjust the recipe if you are using fresh green beans.
- The best way to cook frozen green beans to ensure they are fully cooked but still have a crunch when you bite them.
- Helpful tips and tricks for cooking efficiently at home.
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Ingredients You Need
Frozen thinly sliced green beans: The star of the dish is the green beans. I prefer to buy frozen green beans that are labeled as thin or extra fine. This will give you long and thin green beans that I feel are perfect for this dish. Another thing to look for when buying frozen green beans is for the package to state that they are trimmed. This should guarantee there are no stems and that the green beans have been clipped on the ends. Not only does this provide the green beans with a nice texture, but it will also allow them to absorb the tasty flavors from the onions, garlic, and soy sauce.
While the frozen green beans make for an easy weeknight dish, I always encourage people to use fresh produce when it is in season. The fresh green beans work great for this dish, they just cook a bit quicker than the frozen ones.
Finely diced yellow onion: Finely diced onion is great for getting another layer of flavor in this green bean side. In this recipe, the onions are cooked down a bit to release some of their acidity and develop a beautiful sweet flavor.
Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a traditional Chinese sauce that is used in a ton of different recipes, sauces, and marinades. Made from fermented soybeans, this is the flavor bomb of this dish. The soy sauce will get absorbed by the chopped onion and the green beans to give them a great salty and umami flavor.
Garlic: Garlic green beans are one of the most popular dishes in Chinese restaurants. It only makes sense to include the delicious taste of garlic in this frozen green bean dish. Be sure to chop your garlic up finely so that it is spread evenly throughout the whole side dish. While you can use jarred garlic, fresh garlic will provide a far nicer flavor.
Crushed red pepper flakes: Red pepper flakes give that perfect amount of spice to this green bean side dish. You may also see these labeled as crushed red chili flakes. If you are someone who doesn't like spice, you are feeding people who don’t, feel free to use less or leave this ingredient out completely. Along the same lines, if you are a spice lover, feel free to add more of these crushed red pepper flakes.
Extra virgin olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is used to sauté the onions to make sure they cook nicely and don’t burn. I choose to use extra virgin olive oil because it has great flavor and is healthier than canola oil, vegetable oil, and various seed oils. For the best quality olive oil, make sure the bottle says extra virgin. This guarantees that the oil is pure, with the olives pressed within the same day of being picked and an acidity level of less than 1%.
Salt: Salt is a key tool for elevating the flavor of cooked vegetables. The salt brings out the other dynamic flavors in vegetables such as their sweetness and acidity. Salt is just used as needed in this recipe. The soy sauce has a high sodium content so not much, if any, salt will be needed to add to this recipe. That being said, if you taste the green beans and find they need more salt, add a bit at a time until they taste the way you want.
Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds provide a bit of nutty flavor and a nice little crunch-like texture as a garnish. Sesame seeds are very common as a garnish in Asian-style dishes and the mild sweetness works perfectly with this green bean dish. I use white sesame seeds for a nice color contrast but black sesame seeds work for this recipe just as well.
Green onions: The second type of onion for this recipe, green onions or spring onions are a staple in east asian cuisine. With a mild sweetness and a nice peppery-like bite to them, these onions are great served uncooked just like in this recipe. Thinly slice your green onions at an angle to get the nicest-looking garnish. I try to just use the darker green part of these onions for the garnish, and then I can save the white bottoms for another dish. This ingredient is completely optional.
How To Make This Recipe
1. To make this dish as quick and easy as possible, be sure to prep all your ingredients by having them measured, chopped, and ready to go. Once you have all your ingredients gathered and accessible, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium. The oil will heat quickly and once it is hot, add the chopped yellow onion.
Cook the onions for about 5-8 minutes until they are translucent and golden. Stir the onions around occasionally to make sure they cook evenly and don’t burn. The longer you cook the onions, the sweeter and more caramelized they will get.
2. Once the onions have cooked to a perfect golden color, crank the heat up to medium-high and add the frozen (or fresh) green beans into the skillet. Let the green beans cook for 6-8 minutes.
Be careful not to cook the green beans for too long. Overcooked green beans will still taste great, but they will lose that nice crunchy consistency.
To get the best char on the green beans, try not to stir them around too much. The longer they spend in one spot at a time, the more they will char.
3. Once the green beans have been cooked through and nicely charred, turn the heat down to low. With the heat down, throw in the soy sauce, garlic, and chili flakes, and let everything cook and come together for another 1-2 minutes.
This extra couple of minutes helps the green beans absorb the soy sauce and allows the garlic and chili flakes to spread evenly throughout the dish.
4. Shut off the heat and transfer your frozen green bean dish to a heat-proof serving bowl or platter. Now, you can garnish with the thinly sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Both of these tasty garnishes are completely optional.
- Storage: Store the leftover green beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- Reheat: Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-high heat until warmed through.
- For a full meal pairing, you can make this Asian-style skirt steak recipe. Serve the steak and the green beans with some steamed white or brown rice and you have a delicious, and healthy dinner.
Nope. You can throw the frozen green beans directly into the skillet.
Don’t overcook the green beans. Make sure the green beans still have a bite to them. You can taste-test while you're cooking to make sure you have the right texture.
Yes. When using fresh green beans, they will typically cook a little bit faster than the frozen ones. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the green beans as you cook them and taste-test them to make sure they are still crunchy.
If you notice that your green beans are still super crunchy and a bit hard to bite through, your green beans are undercooked. It’s an easy fix! Just allow them to continue to sauté in a hot pan for an additional few minutes until they soften up.
More Vegetable Side Dishes
Asian Style Sautéed Frozen Green Beans
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion finely diced
- 1 pound frozen thinly sliced green beans trimmed
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Morton kosher salt to taste
- green onions sliced on the bias for garnish (optional)
- sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and golden, about 5 - 8 minutes.
- Turn heat to medium high heat. Add frozen green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until the green beans become slightly softened and charred, about 6 - 8 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add soy sauce, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 1 - 2 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Taste the green beans and add Morton kosher salt to taste, as needed.
- Transfer green beans to a serving bowl or platter. Optionally, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.