I got the idea for these beans when I was travelling in China a few years ago. The Sichuan pepper makes your tongue tingle. They keep warm in a wok quite well, so I go them ready ahead of going to the theatre and they were ready to simply heat when we returned. You can cool the effect down a little and add a creamy element by serving with flagellated feta. The play we saw was The Secret Adversary, a 1920s Agatha Christie adapted play starring sweetheart sleuths Tommy and Tuppence…. tuppence? Priceless would be a better description: delightful, frothy fun.


Recipe for tongue-tingling green beans

For four

  • 400g/14 oz green beans
  • 3 spring onions, including about an inch (3 cms) of the green part, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch (3 cms) of fresh ginger
  • 10 sichuan pepper corns
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • Smoked salt
  1. Cut off the ends of the beans, and cut into manageable lengths – about 1½ inches/5 cm
  2. Crush the peeled garlic cloves with the smoked salt
  3. Chop the ginger finely or grate
  4. Cook the beans either in the microwave or boil them – about four minutes either way
  5. Meanwhile crush the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle
  6. Drain the beans
  7. Heat the oil in a wok, add the peppercorns
  8. About a minute later add the spring onion, the garlic and the ginger
  9. Stir
  10. About a minute later add the drained beans and stir for a minute or two