Yardlong Beans in Coconut Milk

Yardlong Beans in Coconut Milk Recipe

Yardlong beans are also known as Chinese long beans, long-podded cowpeas, asparagus beans or even snake beans. They are more tender (with a hint of sweetness) than regular green beans and are 4 times longer. 

I've come up with a coconut milk yardlong bean recipe inspired by an Indian bean dish Baji (Lulu's grandmother) taught me, called  gawar ki phalli. Instead of the traditional cluster beans, I cut long beans into small pieces and cooked them in coconut sauce (instead of sesame sauce) until tender. I think the coconut milk makes the dish a lot more decadent. It's become a favorite in my house; the girls especially love this dish.

Long Beans


Yields: 6 servings

1-½ pounds Chinese long beans
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
ginger garlic paste (see tips)
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves, torn in half
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon paprika (or red chili powder)
1 Serrano green chile pepper
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 teaspoons vegetable curry mix (masala), optional


Prepping the chile: Stem the Serrano pepper. Using a paring knife, create an incision in the whole pepper and remove the seeds. You don't want to make the dish too spicy; the pepper will add a nice aroma. Note: remember not to rub your eyes after touching chile pepper seeds.

Prepping yardlong beans: Pick out and discard any badly-shaped or blemished beans and wash them. Boil them for about 5 minutes in water (depending on how fresh they are), reduce the heat to low, then add ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Don't over-cook the beans; they shouldn't be too soft as they will finish cooking later. Transfer to an ice bath. Drain thoroughly of all water, then pat dry on paper towels. Trim the ends of the beans and cut them into ½" pieces .

Assembly time: In a deep saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for about 6-8 minutes until caramelized. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger garlic paste, curry leaves, Serrano chile, paprika (or red chili powder) and remaining turmeric powder. Stir well until fragrant. Add the chopped beans, stir well. Add 1 cup of coconut milk, cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, over medium-heat. If the beans start sticking to the bottom, add a little water (I added ½ cup but you could add up to a cup). Season with salt.

Check the doneness of the beans. As soon as the beans are cooked and the liquid evaporates, add the remaining coconut milk and vegetable curry mix (if used). Toss until well coated. Cover with a lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add more salt (if necessary). The liquid should have evaporated and the beans should be tender and creamy.

Serve warm.

Bon appétit!


I like to add vegetable curry mix to the coconut milk for added flavor. The masala mix is made of red chili powder, fenugreek seeds, ginger garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and clove. When you're at the Indian market, look for the Shan brand.

Little reminder on how to make ginger garlic paste: Just clean one large chunk of ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender and, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

The fresher the beans, the faster they cook. I buy Chinese long beans at a local market called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. You can also find them in Asian markets.


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 4, 2011.


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