GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

I have called this salad Balinese, but really you will find variations of this dish all over Indonesia. I was inspired to make it after eating versions of this delicious fresh and crunchy salad on our recent trip to the Moluccas – the Spice Islands of Indonesia.  It’s a really very simple dish to make, but boring it isn’t and I am so in love with it that I find myself making it every other day – in fact, I am having some tonight and just thinking about it makes me salivate.  In my book, that has to be a winner.

Snake beans are a top plant for the sub tropical kitchen garden – they just keep on giving.

Coming home to a profusion of snake beans in the garden also prompted me to get the bean slicer out and my thinking cap on because cooking with what I have is one of the commandments of my religion – anyone can join by the way!  That is one thing you will need to make this dish – a handy little bean slicer.  I remember these from my childhood when we used them to thinly slice flat runner beans – this latest version would have been handy then because it also strings them.  They are still readily available and the best is an Aussie brand made in Sydney – KRISK, which I picked up for $6.50. in my local discount store.

You can use any green bean that is nice and fresh – snappy, but this dish is traditionally made with snake/long beans.

  • 250g shredded green beans
  • 1 cup bean sprouts.  On my trip to the Moluccas we had fresh mung bean sprouts in lots of dishes and this is another thing I did when I got home – started sprouted mung been seeds.  Its very easy to do at home.  Get going and Google how to for something fresh, cheap and healthy to add to salads, stir-fries, noodles and sandwiches.  It was a bonus to find that the grandkids also love their crunchy, sweet freshness too.
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced.  Take the seeds out if you don”t want too much heat.
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup peanuts with their brown skin on – beer nuts are the go (doesn’t matter if they are salted)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Brown sugar, 2 teaspoons
  • Fish sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Light olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Fried shallots, for garnish – readily available pre-cooked.

Handy bean slicer and fried shallots.  You will need both for this dish

  • Slice the beans with the shredder and chop into 4cm lengths.  Place in a bowl along with finely sliced chilli.  Add some salt to taste.
  • Toss the peanuts into a hot wok.  Add the coconut and stir around until coconut turns golden.  Enjoy the fragrance and watch like a hawk for it burns really quickly.
  • Tip the hot coconut and peanuts onto the beans – this helps to slightly soften them.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and oil.
  • Toss the bean sprouts and dressing with the green bean mix.
  • Place in a serving bowl and top with fried shallots.

That’s it – ready.  How easy is that and get ready for the explosion of freshness, crunch, salty, sour sweet taste! A healthy and cheap side dish thats great with any Asian inspired meal especially spiced chicken and seafood. Talking of seafood.  I have to say that one of my all time favourite foods is lobster – not that I have eaten it many times.  However, on our recent trip to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, we were wandering the sleepy market of Banda Neira when a boy cycled past with three fresh lobsters hanging off the handlebars of his bike and I wondered which lucky people were going to be eating them for dinner?  Well, it was us.  Our on-board chef, Janet de Neefe, negotiated with the boy for his catch and they were duly cooked over hot coals off the back of the boat and,  believe me, they were sweet, succulent and delicious with this bean salad and some freshly made sambal of sauteed garlic, red chilli, shrimp paste and fresh tomato.   Relaxing on the back deck of the Kurabesi Explorer after another delicious meal – somewhere in the Banda Sea.  This was my favourite spot for, reading, writing,  night sleeping, gazing at the stars and being rocked by the boat cutting through turquoise waves to a distant horizon and another adventure.