Sesame Green Beans

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I remember my father talking about his childhood and how his parents kept food on the table. They raised pigs for a while and my dad hunted with his dad, then later alone. As their family grew, food had to go further, and my dad would comment on how they stretched the family budget. They still only put one chicken on the table, but made a bigger bowl of gravy.

I’ve thought of that story many times. As my boys have grown and have appetites to match, particularly during growth spurts, I find that the amount of food that formerly gave us leftovers now barely covers mealtime. I can only imagine what the teenage years will be like. My mother talks about how my brothers could go through a couple boxes of cereal a day, and I’ve joked that my boys will all need part-time jobs in high school to help pay the food bills. Aside from that, we add more healthy dishes at mealtime, so instead of making a bigger bowl of gravy I make extra salads and vegetable side dishes, like these sesame green beans. I have a thing for Asian flavors, which my family also enjoys, and these green beans put out a lot of flavor with only a few ingredients and a little work. I can make these while a main dish cooks and sometimes have two woks going at once. I make them a pound at a time, and when there are leftovers, they are great for breakfast or lunch the next day.

Sesame Green Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 pound (454 g) thin French green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Heat the water in the wok and place the beans in the water. Cover and allow to steam until the beans are crisp tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer beans to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Pour out the water and dry the wok.
  2. Heat the peanut oil and add the onion slices. Sauté until the onions are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and beans, then stir-fry until the beans are hot and just tender, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer beans and onions to a plate and drizzle on the sesame oil. Season with the sea salt and sprinkle on the sesame seeds, then serve.
More Information

wok with lid

Recipe Notes

I like to use thin fresh French beans since they cook quickly and have a great crisp-tender quality. Sesame oil is potent, so a little goes a long way. You can purchase toasted sesame seeds or toast white seeds in a dry skillet for a minute or two, just until they start to turn brown.


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