Monday, September 8, 2008


This is a Balinese festive dish, served at major family celebrations and all the best restaurants. It is, in its native state, a pretty complex recipe and I’ve had to make all sorts of terrible compromises to bring it to the modern Western(ish) kitchen. All I can do is ask for forgiveness.

The biggest compromise is to neglect the kencur, the most commonly used spice in Balinese cooking. The root of the resurrection lily, a distant cousin of ginger and galangal, the smell of kencur is ubiquitous in Bali - there's nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world and you can’t get it outside of Indonesia.

Long beans, as has been said before, can be got at most supermarkets. If not, use French or dwarf beans. Blanch 'em for 10 seconds in boiling, salted water and plunge into ice water to keep 'em green.

I’ve also simplified the mixture of pastes used a little without, I hope, messing it all up beyond recognition.

The end result is a delicious, unique and unusual salad to go alongside any Asian meal or to have as a starter, perhaps with some green leaves or a little cool rice.


  • 1 chicken breast (@125g), minced
  • 12 long beans, blanched and cut into 0.5cm pieces
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced on its length
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut, toasted
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • ½ tsp crushed black pepper

  • 1 lemongrass, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 3cm galangal, grated
  • 1 birds eye chilli, chopped
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp powdered turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt

I like to mince my own chicken with a knife, but the weight above of pre-minced chicken will do just fine. Mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients and leave it for a while to settle in – a couple of hours would be good.

Pan fry the coconut in a dry pan to toast it. Reserve this. Using the same pan and a splash of oil, fry off the ½ finely chopped onion to soften and then brown (but not burn). Reserve this.

With a little more oil, fry off the marinated chicken, stirring. It will cook quickly, in 3-4 minutes. Put it to one side to cool down a little. And now mix everything together: beans, chicken, chilli, coconut, coconut milk and then the cool chicken mixture.

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