For the almonds:
For the dressing:
2. Once the water boils, add the beans and cook briefly: 1 or 2 minutes for tiny haricots, 4 or 5 for bigger beans. Don't walk away. Drain the beans quickly. Then shock them by dumping them in the ice water, agitating them briefly until they are quite cool (about a minute). Drain again and set aside. They can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several hours with no loss of color or texture. If you do refrigerate, first dry them extra-thoroughly on a dish towel.
3. Prepare the almonds: Heat a small, heavy skillet over a high flame. Reduce to medium heat and add the almonds. Toast briefly — no more than 5 minutes — until the nuts take on a little color and begin to release their aroma. Transfer to a plate to cool.
4. Add the oil, soy sauce, and sugar to the same small skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the almonds and stir to coat thoroughly until they're sticky and completely glazed. Transfer to a chopping board to cool. They'll stick together, but that's fine. Chop roughly.
5. Prepare the dressing: Mince the ginger and garlic together as finely as you can, and press hard with the side of your broadest chef's knife until you get something like a paste, or at any rate something cohesive. If you prefer, you can whiz them in a blender with the rice vinegar. Or — and this is the easiest alternative of all — you can just measure out 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste from a jar, if you live near an Asian grocery that stocks Indian condiments.
6. Transfer the ginger-garlic paste to a large bowl and whisk in the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and scallions. (You can hold the dressing in the refrigerator at this point for up to a day.)
7. Toss the blanched beans and the cilantro in the bowl with the dressing, scatter in the nuts, and serve at room temperature.
From A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table by T. Susan Chang (Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by T. Susan Chang. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the publisher.
Andrea Reusing is the creator of the restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the book Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. In this installment of The Key 3, she shares with Lynne Rossetto Kasper the techniques behind three of her favorite recipes: Turnip Soup, Overnight Braised Short Ribs and Tomato Salad.