Sambal Goreng Buncis (Green beans) with petai beans

41-sambal-goreng-buncis-af3Probably the most famous vegetable recipe in Indonesian cuisine: sambal goreng buncis. This is a dish made of green beans sautéed in a spicy coconut sauce. Green beans simmer in a broth made out of  garlic, onions, galangal, coconut and lemon grass. I add petai beans today too. That is not an ingredient in the original recipe, but I love petai beans and they go well with green beans.

Sambal Goreng Beans #41 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 72.


1/4 kg of green beans
3 tablespoons of chopped onions
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of sambal terasi (or 1 teaspoon sambal oelek and 1/2 teaspoon terasi – shrimp paste)
1 teaspoon of galangal powder
1 teaspoon of Javanese sugar
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 salam leaf
1/8 block of santen (coconut cream)
2 tablespoons of oil
some salt

Wash the beans. Break the green beans into three or four pieces. Cut the beans the usual way. Make this sambal goreng like sambal goreng cabbage. Add with green beans 1 dl of water together with the santen. French beans do not need extra water because they produce enough moisture during cooking. The beans should not be cooked completely through.

This is what recipe #40 ‘sambal goreng cabbage’ says about the preparation:

Slice the cabbage very finely. Rub onions, garlic, sambal and galangal with the sugar and salt to a paste. When you use sambal oelek, add terasi to the mortar. Sauté the herb paste in the oil until the onions are yellow. Then add the cabbage and sauté until tender. Then add the block of santen, the stalk of lemongrass and the salam leaf. If it is too dry add a little water. Let the dish simmer until the oil comes out of the santen, about 5 to 6 minutes. The cabbage should not be fully cooked. Remove the lemongrass and salam leaf before serving.


It looks like a complex recipe but it is not really.

I always keep petai beans in the freezer. I’m addicted to petai beans. They work great with vegetable and shrimp dishes. I love it. These beans are also called stink beans. They have a strong and specific smell and taste creamy and tropical. 😉

You can use regular sugar if you do not have any sugar from Java in your pantry. You can also use some brown sugar.

Salam is Indonesian bay leaf. I think it smells and tastes a bit like cinnamon, but more subtle. Santen is coconut cream. I buy it in Holland at my local Asian shop in rectangle blocks. You can also use ordinary coconut milk.

I use my blender to make the herb paste. The cobek (mortar) is the original way, but the sauce is more creamy and sticks better to the beans when I use the blender to mix the onions, garlic, galangal, sugar, salt and sambal to a paste. I always keep homemade fresh sambal trassi in the freezer. Sambal trassi or terasi is a chili salsa with shrimp pase. Trassi is a typical Indonesian ingredient. Super strong in smell and taste.


I sauté the paste in a bit of oil until the onions are yellow.


Now the beans are allowed to go in still raw. I let them sauté for a minute or two and then add 1 dl of water and the santen.


The santen dissolves slowly. I add my petai beans, lemongrass and salam leaves now.

41-sambal-goreng-buncis-coconutsauceI simmer this over low heat until the beans are half done – definitely not cooked through.


You can increase the amount of chilli salsa to make this an extra spicy dish. I like it spicy, but my daughter who is 6 not so much. I love this dish and I make it often because it combines well with a lot of other dishes. It is fast and you can use any leftover cabbage or beans.

We eat our sambal goreng green buncis with pandan rice and rempah (Indonesian meat balls).

Beb Vuyk, best known for her Groot Indonesisch Kookboek (Great Indonesian Cook Book), was much more than a great cook. She belongs to the most important Dutch-Indonesian (Indo) writers and journalists of her time. Check this out.

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Lance Desker says:

    Hi – really love the wonderful recipes. Very very similar to what my gran made when we were much younger. I was just wondering if terasi is the same as belachan, which is quite easy to get in the Oriental shops here in Montreal.

  2. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • I use wordpress. The key in my experience is to update plugins daily and wordpress itself asap. I read the news from my service provider about bad plugins or in wordpress groups. I also try to use only as many plugins as needed to keep the site controllable. It is in total quite some work, true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *