Runner beans are known as "knife beans" in China. Sliced and blanched, they are very well suited to the stir-fry treatment, with any of a variety of seasonings. This recipe uses the favourite aromatics of the Hunanese kitchen. Alternatively, stir-fry the blanched beans with a tablespoonful of finely chopped garlic, perhaps with preserved mustard greens or dried chilli, adding salt to taste; or with dried chillies, sichuan pepper and salt for a Sichuanese flavour.
250g runner beans1 garlic cloveAn equivalent amount of ginger½ fresh red chilli2 tbsp cooking oil1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained1–2 tsp ground chillies, to taste1 tsp light soy sauceSalt
Top and tail the beans and cut evenly, on the diagonal, into thin slices (use a runner bean cutter if you have one). Peel and slice the garlic and ginger. Cut the chilli, on the diagonal, into thin slices. Bring a panful of water to a boil and boil the beans for two to three minutes, until just tender. Drain and shake dry.
Add the oil to a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli and stir-fry briefly until fragrant. Add the black beans and ground chillies and, again, stir-fry briefly until fragrant.
Tip in the runner beans and continue to stir-fry until hot and sizzlingly delicious, adding the soy sauce, and salt to taste. Serve.
• This recipe is taken from Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, £25). Order a copy for £20 from the Guardian bookshop
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012