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Spicy Green Beans

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My spicy green beans recipe works so well as a side with a spicy meat dish.

Vegetables don’t have to be boring and this recipe certainly isn’t. It is really quick and easy to make and calls for ingredients such as galangal which you may have in anyway after making my other Asian dishes.  You should try these spicy green beans with Balinese fried duck! The perfect combo.

The finished spicy beans.My served up spicy green beans. Delicious!


About this spicy green beans recipe…

This is a dish I discovered on a recent trip to Ubud on Bali, Indonisia where it is very popular and appears on a lot of menus.

Its Indonesian name is Lawar Kalasan, Lawar means originating from Indonisia and Kalasan basically described the lovely mixture of vegetables, coconut herbs and spices. It sometimes also has minced meat mixed into it which would be good if you intend to serve the spicy beans as a main course and not just as a side as I do.

The spicy green beans or any other readily available vegetable you choose to use with the Kalasan dressing is often served cold but I prefer it served hot.

Do I have to use green beans or will other vegetables work?

I think the dressing would work really well with cauliflower as that vegetable which stand up to the powerful flavours. It would also work well with squash or even broccoli. Just part cook the cauliflower and broccoli for a few minutes as the beans but the squash will need a longer initial cook.

Is jack fruit a crucial ingredient to the recipe?

I state in the method that jack fruit is optional and as you can see I didn’t use it this time as I couldn’t get any.

Jack fruit is a very distinctive fruit, common and readily available freshly in Asia but not so much in the west. It has the consistency of banana or pineapple and many say it’s sweet but I have also heard others opine that it can even have a meaty flavour.

It is used in quite a few recipes as a meat replacement and I have to say it does work well on the few occasions I,ve tried it in these kind of dishes.

Why is shrimp paste used?

I have to admit that this does sound like an odd ingredient to add to a bean dish. It actually tastes nice than it sounds, believe me!
Only 1/2 teaspoon is used so a very small amount but this does make a big difference to the dish.

Just be really careful not to add any more than 1/2 teaspoon as too much makes the recipe inedible and gives and overpowering fishy taste. Whereas 1/2 teaspoon is subtle enough to work really well with the flavours.

I have also seen lots of recipes with dried tiny prawns added to vegetable dishes so the use of small amounts of prawns or paste is not entirely uncommon.

What is the difference between ginger and galangal?

I have seen some people say that these are interchangeable but they aren’t.  Galangal has a woody and slightly citrusy flavour and is a sharper flavour than ginger. It is definitely worth getting hold of it if you can find it because it adds a further dimension to this dish.
Ginger has a sweet yet spicy taste so lacks some of the flavours of galangal.

If you definitely can’t get hold of galangal try adding some lime zest with a bit of extra ginger to make up for the distinct flavour.

Galangal does freeze quite well so if you can find it maybe buy as much as you can and freeze it.

Step 1

The weighed out ingredients.

I like to line up all the ingredients for my spicy green beans before I begin to cook.

Step 2

Blanching the beans.

Blanch the green beans for around 30 seconds.

Step 3

Frying the shallots, garlic and chillies.

Frying the shallots, galric

Step 4

Frying until golden brown.

Fry the shallots, garlic and chillies until a nice golden brown but be careful not to burn the garlic.

Step 5

Adding the shrimp paste and lime leaves.

Spoon in the shrimp paste and lime leaves.

Step 6

Dressing ingredients in the blender.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend to a fine paste.


Step 7

The dressing on the beans

Pour the dressing over the beans and at this stage also add the Jack Fruit if using. Warm through.


The finished spicy green beans.

The finished spicy beans in my serving bowl.

If you like this spicy green beans recipe, you might also like to try some of these.

Indonesian Chicken Sate
Indonesian Fried Chicken
Sambal Oelek – Indonesian hot sauce
Chicken with Sambal Matah
Babi Kecap
Soto Ayam
Indonesian Bakso
Ikan Bakar – Indonesian Fried Fish
Nasi Goreng
Mee Goreng
Sambal La La – Spicy Clams
Indonesian Blackened Fish
Seafood Laksa
Chicken Rendang
Beef Rendang
Butter Egg Floss Prawns
Malaysian Chicken Curry
Malaysian Devil Curry
Ayam Masak Merah – Malaysian Red Chicken Curry
Chicken Kapitan
Homemade Kecap Manis

Have you tried this spicy green beans recipe?

If so, please give it a star rating in the comments below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

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Yield: 4

Spicy Green Beans

The finished spicy green beans.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 300g (10.5oz) fresh green beans, slit down the middle and cut into 1.75cm (1/2 inch) pieces
  • 2 ½ tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 3 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp garlic, roughly chopped
  • 50g fresh or frozen coconut, grated
  • 100g cooked jackfruit (tinned or fresh), minced (optional)
  • 1 x 1.25cm (1/2 inch) ginger
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inches) galangal
  • 2 makrut lime leaves, stems removed and finely julienned
  • 1/2 lemongrass stalk, white part only, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 green bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 candlenuts
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 – 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp shrimp paste


  1. Bring water to a boil in a frying pan and add the beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until tender and cooked and to your liking. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Dry your pan and then add 2 ½ tablespoons oil over a medium heat and fry the shallots and garlic until they are a light, crispy brown. This should only take a couple of minutes and be careful not to burn the garlic and reduce the heat if needed.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the beans.
  4. Add the grated coconut to the oil and fry for a few minutes until it is turning a light brown. Then transfer with a slotted spoon to the plate with the other cooked ingredients.
  5. Place all of the sambal ingredients up to and including the lime juice in a blender or food processor and blend to a semi-smooth or smooth paste.
  6. Returning to your pan, heat the remaining oil over a medium high heat. You can add a drop more oil if needed and fry the sambal for about 2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp paste and continue cooking for about 30 seconds to cook out the rawness of the paste.
  7. Add the cooked jackfruit, if using to the sambal and stir it all together. Then return the cooked beans, garlic, shallots and coconut to the pan to heat through. Taste it and add more lime juice if you want a tarter flavour and season with salt to taste.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 129mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 4g

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