"Of beer?" I asked.
"No. Me. Six-pack abs."
"Beer might be easier," I quipped.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Husband can do it. He puts his mind to something and it gets done. I watched him lose 20 lbs in less than 6 months, and these days, due his concern over his aging body and health, he has also lost weight again. He looks good - young, hip, and handsome (and still with a good majority of his hair intact). People often mistaken him for a college student from behind and are surprised by his more mature face in front.
But I wonder about what my response should be. "Okay babe. Me too. I'll get you a six pack - abs, not beer." So I pause. Because although Husband's body is older than my body, my body carried three babies and breast-fed them each for over twelve months. Furthermore, although I've lost weight and changed my body shape over the last year, I think I'm pretty far off from the six pack. And it really isn't a particular goal of mine to give him six pack abs.
Instead, Dear Husband, I give you your favorite Chinese vegetable dish - the dry sauteed green beans! I know how much you love these, how we used to love eating them together while I was in grad school at our favorite Chinese restaurant Jing-Jing's. (I know there are some people for whom THAT restaurant brings back crazy memories as well.) This is your non-six-pack-abs wife's version and it'll taste really good with the six pack that you bring (beer, not abs).
My version takes advantage of those lovely 4 oz packages of chopped pancetta which fry up so crispy and brown and are really a lovely little salty kick next to the crisp tender green beans. Dry sauteeing (which really means cooking in oil and high heat) blisters the outside of the green beans and gives them that crisp tender texture. Children loved them tonight, with Daughter #2 (professed veggie hater) taking down more than her fair share. They go perfectly with rice and some Poached Chicken.
Dry Sauteed Green Beans with Pancetta
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 lb green beans (slim ones like haricot vert), ends trimmed
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I always cook with kikoman low sodium)
1 tablespoon shao xing wine or sake
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon sambal oelek (ground chili paste)
4 oz chopped pancetta (chop it yourself or prepackaged)
¼ cup minced scallions
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I like Kadoya brand)
Heat a large wok over high heat. Add about 3 tablespoons of oil and heat until oil shimmers (you can test for this by putting in a green bean and seeing if it begins sizzling. When oil is ready, add green beans and fry until they are bright green and slightly shriveled, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove green beans from oil, and allow to drain on paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoons of oil from wok.
Combine soy sauce, sugar, sake, and chili paste in a bowl. Set aside.
Return wok with oil to high heat. Add pancetta and stir fry for 1 minute. Add scallions and garlic and fry for 20 seconds and then add green beans. Stir fry together for another minute. Add soy sauce mixture and fry until sauce is almost completely reduced, about 30 seconds. Add sesame oil and serve hot from the wok.