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In this country, the green bean is often relegated to wallowing in swampy mushroom-soup casseroles or swimming in vinegar as part of three-bean salads.

Yet the green bean, one of several bean varieties prized for their immature seed pods, is arguably better the less it is cooked.

Blanched in salted water and shocked in ice to retain its vibrant green color, green beans add flavor and tender texture to salads. Topped with a sauce of lemon and browned butter, with a sprinkling of sliced almonds, they can be dressed up well to accompany sophisticated entrees like Dover sole.

The green bean also is found extensively in Asian countries, where cooks have long used green been analogues like long beans that are native to their regions.

Green beans start wilting as soon as they are picked, so store them securely wrapped in your refrigerator's crisper drawer, and use them as soon as possible.

Local legume: Green beans used to be called string beans, because of a fiber running the length of the bean, starting at the stem, similar to pea pods. But a bean breeding breakthrough attributed to one Calvin N. Keeney of LeRoy changed that.

In the late 1800s, using specimens selected from more than 1,000 acres of beans, Keeney developed a strain that produced reliably tender beans. His seed company's stringless versions were among more that 60 varieties he sold, ?earning him the title "father of the stringless bean."

Here, in a recipe from Saveur, green beans are blistered in hot oil, removed from the pan, and reintroduced after pork has been fried and seasoned in the pan. It's the bare framework of a classic Sichuan Chinese recipe, and garlic or ginger could be added to taste.

While the recipe calls for pickled mustard greens, available at local Asian groceries, any sour pickle will do in a pinch. Just try to chop it into pieces that are easy for eaters to fork up alongside green beans.

email: agalarneau@buffnews.com

> Dry-Fried Green Beans

1/4 cup canola oil

10 ounces green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 ounces ground pork

3 tablespoons finely chopped pickled mustard greens, or another pickle

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Ground black pepper, to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add beans, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and set aside; return wok to high heat. Add remaining oil, and then add pork. Stir until browned, about 2 minutes. Return beans to wok along with greens or pickles, cooking wine, and soy sauce, and stir until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in sesame oil; season with salt and pepper.