Hong Kong’s Temple Street Night Market is a bustling and colorful bazaar where boisterous vendors and shop owners haggle with visitors over everything from jade and art work to clothing and toys. My boyfriend, Peter, and I are there fairly often with friends, but not for the shopping.
No, what we’re there for is Chinese food. Quick, tasty, westernized Chinese food.
It’s nothing fancy. Our go-to dining spot is an open air restaurant with long folding tables, plastic stools, and endless bottles of cheap local beer.
And man do I love it.
Our group usually orders 4-5 dishes and chows down family style so we can try it all. One dish that is a favorite of mine is the green beans.
“Green beans?” you might ask. Who goes to a Chinese restaurant and says their favorite dish is green beans?
But these aren’t just any green beans. They’re savory green beans with minced pork, doused in sauce and chili. And since technically they count as a vegetable serving they’re sort of amazing.
If there was ever a way to get me to eat more veggies, this would be it.
After my first few night market visits, I knew I had to find out the recipe. So finally in his brilliant Cantonese, Peter asked our waitress what exactly was in this veggie goodness we were eating. All she replied with was,”XO SAUCE.”
And just like that, the secret was out. Not that I should have been too surprised.
XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce that originated in Hong Kong which contrary to the name, doesn’t contain any cognac. But it does have some pricey ingredients in it which is why some call it the “caviar of the east.”
The sauce itself is not complicated to whip together, but it’s much easier to pick up a jar
of this flavorful sauce rather than trying to source the hard to find ingredients to make the sauce yourself.
The XO sauce adds a punch of flavor to anything it is added to (so go on, add it to everything! everything, I say!) and these green beans are no exception. My version of green beans in XO sauce has a bit of an extra kick to it (Peter and I have a spice-lovin’ household), but you can adjust as needed.
- 1 lb (450 g) of green beans (or Chinese long beans cut into 4-5 inch pieces)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of XO sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of chili oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of fish sauce
- 3 small, dried red chili peppers (optional; sliced in half and deseeded)
- 1 lb (450 g) of minced pork
- Combine soy sauce and fish sauce in a large bowl. Add minced pork and mix well.
- In a large skillet, heat oil on high heat. Add green beans and stir fry for approximately 3-4 minutes if you prefer more crisp beans or 5-6 minutes if you prefer softer beans. Stir frequently to prevent oil from over heating.
- Remove beans and transfer to a paper towel on a separate bowl or plate
- Reduce heat to medium and in the same pan, add the marinated minced pork and chili peppers and cook until pork is browned
- Add beans back into the pan and stir in XO sauce and chili oil until dish is coated
- Serve with rice as a main dish or alone as a side dish