Sayur asem with brown beans

So funny to make Indonesian brown beans for a change. This recipe with onions, garlic, sambal trassi and tamarind is fantastic.

Brown beans dishes sound so Dutch, but Beb says that this sayur recipe originates in Bogor (formerly Buitenzorg, Indonesia). In that region brown beans were grown.

Let’s get started!

This recipe is enough for 3 people and is done in 45 minutes.

Sayur asem with brown beans # 101 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch kookboek, page 112.


1 can of brown beans
100 grams of minced meat for soup or leftovers like tongue or tail meat
4 dl strong broth


3 tablespoons of chopped onions
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of sambal terasi
1 teaspoon of galangal
4 tablespoons of asemwater made from a piece of asem the size of two walnuts
1 teaspoon of Javanese sugar
1 salam leaf

Let the brown beans drain. Bring the broth to the boil with the drained moisture from the beans, the salam leaf and the asem. Add the onions, garlic, sambal trassi, galangal and sugar, and then the beans. Let it simmer for a while until the onions are tender.

This sayur recipe is originally from Bogor (formerly Buitenzorg). In that region they grow brown beans. In Indonesia they use fresh brown beans. Here fresh brown beans are only available in the summer months. If people use fresh beans or dried ones that are soaked  in water, the beans should be cooked first, together with the meat, for instance.

Beb says ‘one can of brown beans’. How much that is exactly, is unclear. I use a can of about 700 grams of cooked beans.

Soup meat is used for the broth. I use one beef stock cube and leave out the soup meat. I use minced meat balls instead. I buy them like this in the supermarket (that’s what I did now). Or I make them myself with 100 grams of minced beef  seasoned with 1 teaspoon of peper and salt.

My salam leaves are finished so I use ordinary bay leaf. 😉

Sambal trassi

I make sambal shrimp paste (sambal trassi) myself. Sambal is a chili salsa. Easily made with some fresh chilies and salt. Just rub them fine in a mortar or use a blender. Trassi is a shrimp paste; it’s used in Thai cuisine too. I buy it at my supermarket. I mix freshly rubbed chilies with some shrimp paste and that makes a sambal trassi. 😉

First, I drain the beans directly in the pan in which I’m going to make my sayur asem with brown beans. I add 4 dl of water and turn on the heat.

I pour in the tamarind and let it come to the boil  with a beef broth cube and the bay leaf. Tamarind I buy at an Asian food store (toko). It has been filtered; very convenient.

The meat can go in now.

I let the mini meatballs simmer for a few minutes until done and then I add the onions, garlic, galangal, sambal and sugar.

Everything can simmer now until the onions are tender (for about a minute or 5).

It’s almost ready!

I add the brown beans at the end, because they are already cooked and just need to warm up in the broth.

We eat our Indonesian brown beans with acar ketimun and white rice. Because this sayur asem is almost like a soup it’s literally mouthwatering!

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