Sambal Beans


  • 400 g green beans (or more)
  • 3 unions
  • 4 table spoons oil (peanut oil)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 to 2 table spoons sambal (Sambal Oelek)
  • 1/2 tea spoon trassi (shrimp paste)
  • 3 tablespoons ketjap manis
  • 2 cm piece of laos (galanga root)
  • 3 to 4 lemon grass (sereh)
  • 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (djeroek poeroet)
  • 1/4 block coconut cream (santen) (50 g)
  • water


Read the whole recipe before starting.

Remove the ends of the green beans and divide the beans in halves (or thirds). Rinse the beans with cold water in a colander.

Dice the unions, crush the garlic and grate the laos. Remove the outer leaves of the lemon grass. Rinse the lemon grass with some cold water, also rinse the fresh lime leaves.

Into the wok:

Add the oil to the wok and heat up the wok. Add the diced unions and crushed garlic and fry these for a while. Then add the grated laos, the trassi and the sambal. Keep in mind, you can always add more sambal if you need to. Fry this for a short while.

Now add the lime leaves, lemon grass and coconut cream. While the coconut cream is melting, add water. I do this as I see fit, but I probably add about 300 ml to 400 ml of water, and maybe even a little bit more. Also add the ketjap now. Let the coconut cream desolve and then lower the heat and let it simmer away.

Add a pan with water, and get it to boil. Then add the green beans, and let these cook for 10 minutes from the point all beans are added. Then drain the beans and add them to the colander, rinse with cold water to cool down the beans. Do a quick clean of the pan, and add the beans back into your pan.

After you are done simmering in the wok, remove the lime leaves and the lemon grass.

Now you can add some of the sauce mixture from the wok to your beans. Stir and see whether you have added enough, and add more if needed. If you think you need more sambal, you can add this to the beans while stirring through. Heat up slowly before serving.

For the best tasting sambal beans, prepare this well up front, and just heat up the sambal beans slowly when needed. One day up front is probably a good idea, or otherwise prepare this in the morning.

The sambal bean sauce from the wok will be enough for at least 1 kg of beans, depending on the amount of water added. You can freeze the leftover sauce after it has cooled down, to use at a later date. Freezing the sauce, rather then the ready made beans works much better. Now next few times, making sambal beans will be a whole lot easier with your ready made sauce.

Serve with:

This vegetable side dish works well with Indonesian style meat dishes, there are a lot of possibilities here. Serve it up with white rice or fried rice (nasi), and a meat dish like Daging Rendang, Babi Ketjap or Satay and maybe some atjar, or whatever combination you see fit.

Unions, laos, trassi and sambal in the wok

Added lime leaves, lemon grass and santen

Added water and ketjap, and simmering away

Sambal beans in the pan