The ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang is a concept used to describe how opposite forces are in actuality complimentary to each other. It is believed that everything has both yin and yang aspects and it is important for these forces to be balanced. It has been mentioned that the first references to yin and yang came from “I Ching”, the five classic works compiled and edited by Confucius.
This philosophy is based on the Taoist belief that food plays an important role in Chinese culture specifically Chinese cuisine and medicine. It is suggested that a person’s health can be improved with diet changes in order to restore a healthy balance between the yin and yang in the body.
Yang foods are said to be warming, drying and invigorating to the body and yin foods are cooling, damp and soothing. Yang foods include lamb, chicken, salmon, and ginger. Yin foods are many vegetables (including green beans) fruit, crabs, clams and lettuce. Neutral foods are eggs and white rice.
Most food we eat can be designated as being predominantly yin, predominantly yang or a balance between the two. In this recipe two ingredients are yin; green beans and scallions. Some yang ingredients are ginger, garlic and ground pork. I also served these green beans with salmon which is very yang and a side of rice which is a neutral food.
Cooking methods such as stir-frying are considered yang and blanching is classified as yin. So in my green been recipe I have used two cooking methods as I blanched the beans first and then stir-fried them. This enables a cook to create a harmonious state of well-being by using such ingredients as green beans with ginger or chicken with mangoes. What it comes down to is a “balanced diet”.
The symbol for yin yang is called the Taijitu.
Yin Yang Beans, Adapted
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. haricots verts green beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half if they are long (I like to leave the tails on)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp. peanut oil
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp. ground pork (about 1 ounce) – or more if desired (bacon would be a good substitute)
- 1 tbsp. pickled ginger, minced (see comment below)
- 1/4 cup snipped scallion pieces (green part)
In a saucepan bring 1/2 tsp. of the salt and the water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for a minute or two until they are bright green and the water almost returns to a boil. Drain well in a colander. Then I like to dry between two pieces of scott towels to thoroughly dry the beans. If there is any water on the beans they will braise versus stir-fry.
In a small bowl combine the soy sauce and rice wine; set aside.
Heat your wok until on high; swirl in the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until the aromatics are fragrant; add the pork. Stir-fry about 1 minute or until the pork is no longer pink. Add the beans, pickled ginger and scallions. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Add the soy sauce/rice wine mixture and stir-fry another minute or until the pork is cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender.
Comment: Pickled ginger comes in different forms. The author suggests buying the one with the least preservatives and I totally agree. If you don’t have access to a Chinese/Japanese store you will probably only find the “sushi” kind of pickled ginger. Chinese groceries carry this light pink pickled ginger and a deep pink variety that is available in shreds. A red dye has been added to reach that color. See pictures below.
Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju
This is another great recipe by cookbook author Grace Young which I have slightly adapted.