For many families, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a green-bean casserole flavored with cream of mushroom soup and topped with a can of fried onions. We're not looking to usurp anyone's sacred dish, but we couldn't help but think about the sweet-and-salty braised green beans served at many Chinese restaurants and how we might combine those two dishes. In the end, we came up with this delicious mix of beans sauteed with soy sauce, garlic, and maple syrup, then topped with crispy shallots. It's easy, fresh, and fun.
First, fry the shallots: Add ½ cup oil to a medium-size skillet and set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add shallots and salt; cook, stirring, until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes.
Next, make the beans: Fill a large saucepan with 2 inches of water and set a steamer basket inside. Arrange beans in basket, cover, and bring water to a boil over high heat. Steam until not-quite-tender, about 6 minutes; then drain. Meanwhile, set a large (14-inch) skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add garlic and cook 1 minute; then add beans, 2 tablespoons water, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Cook, stirring often, until beans are tender, another 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with fried shallots.