If you grow these you will know them as Vigna unguiculata or ‘those long beans’. They were originally from Asia so you see them in the markets in China through to Indonesia.
They are crunchy, sweet and absolutely a must in curries, stirfries and just great steamed with real butter.
They are a warm season crop but don’t like to dry out so they produce more frequently on the vine when the rains have been good. You can harvest these around 7 weeks from planting and they need to be picked twice a week at least.
For vegetarians these beans are important for protein content, have good fibre, Vitamin B and A.
Here are some recipes.
Wok-fried green beans with chilli pork
Snake bean & potato curry
- 300g pork, coarsely minced
- 3 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp castor sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Handful of green or snake beans
- 1-2 carrots, sliced julienne
- 3 tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 leek, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, squashed
- 2 tbs Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tbs chilli bean sauce
- ½ lime garnish and juice
- Mix the pork with soy sauce, cornflour, sugar, salt and pepper and set aside.
- Trim the beans and cut on the diagonal into 5cm lengths. Cut the carrots lengthwise into thin strips. Cook the beans and carrots in simmering, salted water for 4 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water, then pat dry.
- Heat half the oil with the leek and garlic in a wok. When hot, stir fry the beans andand carrots for 4 mins until scorched. Remove to a warm platter. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry the pork over high heat for 4 mins, tossing well. Add the rice wine, chilli bean sauce, the vegetables and a dash of water to the pork, tossing well for 2 mins, and serve with steamed rice. Garnish with thin slices lime or cut quarters to squeeze over dish.
Snake bean & potato curry
- 1/2 leek, chopped
- 2 tbs peanut oil or olive oil
- 1 tbs fresh lime juice
- 1 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- 1 tbs ground coriander
- 3 tsp sambal oelek
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- 3 sabago potatoes, peeled, cut into 3cm cubes
- 1 x 400ml can coconut milk
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water
- 1 bunch snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbs fried shallots (optional) Bought from Asian grocer
- Place the leek, 1 tbs of the oil, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, sambal oelek, turmeric and shrimp paste in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the curry paste. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- Add the beans and simmer, covered, for a further 3 minutes or until the beans are bright green and tender crisp. Taste and season with salt.
- Spoon the curry into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the fried shallots. Serve immediately.