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 beans
1 garlic clove
An equivalent amount of ginger
½ fresh red chilli
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1–2 tsp ground chillies, to taste
1 tsp light soy sauce
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