Throughout tropical Asia, long green beans grow abundantly, and are used in many kinds of dishes. When Asian long green beans are in season, they are served warm in a sambal style salad. You’ll easily find these yard-long beans sold in abundance at any Asian market and in some major supermarkets. When shopping for these beans, you will notice that the long strands are limp even when they’re fresh since it is a different variety of beans altogether. The common green bean grows from a low-growing shrub, whereas yard long beans grow on climbing vines. They are limp because there is not a fiber keeping them stiff, as is true for common string beans. I remember plucking these yard-long beans off the vines along our fence and enjoying some of them raw. If you cannot find these long green beans, you can substitute common string beans but either way it is necessary that you blanch them in rapid boiling water. The warm cooked beans will immediately absorb the dressing making these them tender and flavorful.
For the dressing, I prefer to use calamansi lime juice. Calamansi is a tiny lime that is native to the Southeast Asian region. In Malaysia, they grow like lemons on the tree and we pluck them fresh for salad dressings. Calamansi lends a special tangerine and lemon-like flavor combination without the tartness of regular lime. Since fresh calamansi limes are unavailable in the United States, the frozen juice makes an acceptable substitute. Pure frozen calamansi juice comes in small packets found in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets. If you cannot find the frozen juice, you can make a similar substitute for calamansi by adding a concoction of the juice of one whole orange and one whole lemon mixed together in a bowl. This mixture will freeze well and can be added to any dressing.
2 cup long Asian green beans or haricot beans
1 teaspoon salt for blanching
1 bunch romaine lettuce washed, drained and broken into small pieces
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 sprigs of Thai Basil leaves
2 tablespoons calamansi lime juice or the orange-lemon concoction
2 ½ tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon sambal belachan
½ teaspoon salt
- Make the dressing by combining calamansi lime, sweet soy sauce, sambal and salt in a small bowl. Mix well to combine the flavors and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water and salt to boil. Drop in the beans and allow to cook
uncovered for 10 minutes. The beans should be tender but slightly crunchy when
done. Drain the beans as soon as they are done.
- To serve, combine the cooked beans, romaine lettuce, tomato, and basil leaves in a
large salad bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to mix well. Serve immediately.