Last minute dinner sorted: Cook green beans, pork, tofu & olives tonight

Umami – that deep, rich, saltiness – is one of the best flavours in the world. So satisfying, so comforting, and no more so than in a noodle-and-mince dish, as easy to eat as it is to cook.

Green beans are abundant at the moment, but if you only have frozen peas, go for that. In fact, this one of those dishes that is very forgiving of substitutions: I can easily imagine a sliced red or yellow capsicum here, or a tin of water chestnuts if you have one lying around, or some shredded spinach. Just about any noodle or fragrant rice will do, and even other minces – meaty or not – will work. The magic in this dish is in the soy, salt and chilli flavours.

* Recipe: Sichuan pepper beef, asparagus & noodles
* Recipe: Char kway teow
* Recipe: Quick-fried cabbage and pork with chilli and peanut dressing
* Recipe: Prawn & tofu spring stir-fry

Green beans, pork, tofu & olives

by Fiona Smith

Serves 4


450g long beans or green beans, cut into 5cm lengths

3 tablespoons peanut oil

300g pork mince

3 cloves garlic, crushed

5cm piece ginger, peeled, grated

2 tablespoons chilli bean sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee brand)

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 tablespoon soy sauce

300g firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes

75g dry-cured black olives or Chinese preserved olives, pitted, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

steamed rice or noodles to serve


1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 1 minute. Drain and cool under cold running water.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes until browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli sauce to the wok and cook for 1 minute.

3. Combine the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of cold water then add to the wok along with 3⁄4 cup more water and the soy sauce.

4. Bring to a simmer then add the tofu, olives and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.

More last-minute dinners

Lemon thyme chicken with pea and potato mash, by Olivia Andrews. Full recipe here.

Pasta with long cooked broccoli, by Ray McVinnie. Full recipe here.

Beef noodles with peanuts and lime, by My Food Bag. Full recipe here.

Corn fritters with roast vegetable salad, by Nadia Lim. Full recipe here.

Cajun fish wraps and kumara chips with salad, by Nadia Lim. Full recipe here.

Mexican-style beef and bean bowl, by Olivia Andrews. Full recipe here.

Coconut chicken curry with cashews and coriander, by Ginny Grant. Full recipe here.

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