One recipe, two ideas here: First, that you can use ground turkey in a stir fry. Second, that when you have older, thicker green beans, you can transform them by cutting steep diagonal slices that will absorb a fantastic amount of flavor.
My mom has made green beans like this for years, so it always seemed kind of normal to me. But I’ve never seen anyone make them the way she does. They’re amazing. And there’s really nothing to it, just a turn of the knife.
It’s a little longer prep time, but flip side is the cooking time is less. It takes me 15 minutes to cut a pound of green beans, and I’m slow.
You’re probably more used to seeing cut pieces of meat in stir fry. Often you’ll find a little bit of ground pork for flavoring in a dish of whole green beans. And there’s a fantastic eggplant dish that uses ground pork. But ground meat is less common in stir fries at Chinese restaurants here.
Once you try it, I think you will love ground turkey for stir fry. I find the more traditional ground pork generally too fatty. And what I love about ground turkey is that it’s poultry without the slimy job of trimming chicken.
As with most stir fries, this dish is extremely versatile. The green beans on their own are a phenomenal vegetable dish. And the ground turkey adds delicious flavor to any vegetables you want to saute.
If you love my old fan favorite chicken and green bean stir fry, I promise you will love this one too.
I don’t use a lot of bottled sauces – they have too many additives and take up valuable space in my fridge. You only need a few pantry ingredients to mix up a stir fry sauce that’s fresher and better than anything you can buy.
A little soy sauce, dry sherry (sake or white wine will do fine too) and garlic to marinate the meat. Another great thing about ground meat is it really doesn’t need marinating time.
Simple sauce, just soy sauce, dry sherry, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic. I’ll add ginger if I have it, or crushed red pepper if the kids are willing.
Slice the green beans at a steep diagonal, discarding the ends. For curved string beans, start with the curve facing down, like a frown-y mouth, which will help with the angle.
It goes faster once you get the hang of it.
It helps to cover the beans during cooking, so that they cook through. The beans go from bright green to darker as they cook. Young beans can be cooked to crisp-tender, while mature beans may need more time to lose their toughness.
Add soy sauce to flavor.
Finish with a bit of butter at the end. Subtle and good.
Stop here for an outstanding vegetable side dish.
But if you want the meat-and-veg meal in one, put the skillet back on the stove for the last step. Break up the meat with a metal spatula as it cooks.
Add back green beans.
Stir in sauce to coat.
And it’s ready to go. Finish with a tiny drizzle of sesame oil if you have it, but no one will notice if you don’t.
Variations are endless. Eggplant is amazing; it just takes more time and oil to do the initial saute. A mix of vegetables would be good too. I made this recently with a bunch of zucchini I needed to use up.
Zucchini gets a little mushy later, but it’s great fresh.
The nice thing about this green bean stir fry is it’s just as amazing left over. So while you’re in the slicing zone, make more than you need, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Sliced Green Bean and Ground Turkey Stir Fry
When you have older, thicker string beans, this slicing method is the way to go. A little extra prep work, but the sliced beans are quick to cook and have loads of surface area to absorb flavor. My mom makes the green beans as a vegetarian side dish, but if you add a bit of meat it’s also a fantastic one-dish meal.
- 1/2 pound ground turkey (or pork)
- 1 pound green beans
- Cooking oil (avocado is my favorite)
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 scallion, chopped (optional)
- 1-2 teaspoons butter (optional)
- Dash sesame oil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry sherry (or sake, or white wine)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry (or sake, or white wine)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (white or rice vinegar also fine)
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced (optional)
- Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
- Rinse green beans in a colander and let dry.
- Add ground meat to a bowl. Mix in soy sauce, sherry and garlic and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- In small bowl, mix sauce ingredients (add optional ginger and/or red pepper if desired). Stir well, pressing out any lumps of cornstarch, and set aside.
- Slice string beans on a cutting board, discarding ends and slicing in thin (1/8″) slices at a steep diagonal.
- Heat two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add scallions to oil and stir, then add green beans. Stir and cover skillet. Cook covered for a few minutes, uncovering periodically to stir. Drop the heat a bit if they are browning too quickly. Green beans turn from bright green to darker as they cook. Young beans can be cooked to crisp-tender; mature beans may need more time to lose their toughness.
- When green beans are just short of the desired tenderness, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and stir to distribute. Taste and add more soy sauce to give a lightly salty, savory flavor. Add in a pat of butter to finish (I say optional but my mom says do it). Remove from pan. (Stop and serve here for a great side dish without meat.)
- Put empty skillet back on medium heat, add a tablespoon of cooking oil and add marinated ground meat. Use a metal spatula to break up and stir the meat as it cooks.
- When the meat is fully cooked (no longer pink), add the string beans to the pan. Before adding the prepared sauce to the skillet, give it a final stir to mix in the cornstarch that settles at the bottom. Stir well to coat the meat and string beans in the sauce. Finish with a dash of sesame oil if desired. Remove to a dish and serve with rice.
- This stir fry is endlessly versatile. Use the meat with any other sauteed vegetables, or the string beans make a great side dish on their own (no sauce needed).
- If you have young, tender green beans, you can skip the slicing and cook them whole (see my chicken and green bean stir fry), then add the ground meat as directed.
- It takes me about 15 minutes to slice a pound of green beans, and I’m slow.
Here’s a link to the printable version.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.