Snake beans with coconut milk


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

Snake beans lie like arm-length curls of green rope next to the green beans in the markets. They can be used interchangeably, but snake beans tend to take a little longer to yield to the heat of the pan. Here they are cooked not for crisp greenness, but taken beyond until silky and tender in a comforting cloak of spiced coconut milk.


  • 1 tablespoon oil, for frying
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) snake beans or green beans, trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 1 lemongrass stick, trimmed and bruised
  • 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk

Bumbu spice paste

  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, roughly chopped
  • 2 cm (¾ inch) ginger, peeled
  • 2 cm (¾ inch) galangal, skin scrubbed
  • 2 cm (¾ inch) turmeric, peeled, or ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons dark palm sugar (gula jawa)
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Grind all the bumbu ingredients together in a food processor, adding a little water to help everything come together to a paste.

In a large pan, heat the oil and fry the bumbu for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Add the beans along with a splash of water and stir to coat in the spices. Cook for a minute or two before adding the lemongrass stick and coconut milk.

Cook, stirring often, until the beans are very tender, about 10-15 minutes.