Green Beans in Spicy Shrimp & Garlic Sauce

Here is a quick side dish done in a Malaysian Thai belacan -ish fashion. All said, it took us about eight minutes beginning to end. Don’t fear the shrimp paste! It’s a tasty treat. You will need to use your “to taste” skills to get just the right amount of flavor without going too salty – your greatest risk.

Green Beans in Spicy Shrimp and Garlic Sauce

  • 12 oz. Green beans (why 12? That is what was in the bag)
  • ½ – 1 cup Shallots or onions, really add as much or little as you want
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Coconut or sesame oil for stir fry (NOTE: sesame will impart its flavor)
  • Optional add-ins: shrimp, minced pork, tofu, ginger, red bell peppers, mushrooms
  • Other vegetable options: kangkung, snow or snap peas, asparagus, Chinese broccoli, pea vine, okra, spinach, eggplant …

For Sauce:

  • 2 heaping tablespoons shrimp paste, we used the Panthai Norasingh brand – you can make from scratch (links below)
  • 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes in oil or other spicy add in like dried chilis (this is obviously optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (the concentrated, dark brown stuff – recommend phuc quoc brand)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (a little more if you think you need it)
  • Water (about equal part to the sauce volume)


  • Prep beans as you wish and then blanch the green beans and drain well. We were ingenious (some read cheated) and used our hot water dispenser.
  • Mix the all the sauce ingredients together, except the water, in a bowl. Taste and adjust. Taste and adjust. You could take it one step further and mash together shrimp paste and chilis in a mortar and pestle to really integrate (and make a mess). Add in enough water to about double the volume of sauce. Most of this will just evaporate when stir frying. Stir to combine
  • Heat up oil in wok or pan on medium high.
  • Add in garlic and shallots/onions and stir around until brown.
  • Add in drained blanch green beans and give it a few stirs around. Now would be a good time to add in shrimp. If using ground pork etc, I would put it in a minute or two after shallots and garlic to give it a head start.
  • Add in shrimp paste sauce and stir around until cooked. About 3 minutes if you want them crunchy or a little longer if you like them softer.

I am going to have to try this from scratch some time. If you are looking for a great Malayasian restaurant or want to taste it before you try to cook it – my personal favorite is Malay Satay Hut on 12th and Jackson (also Bellevue location). They make fantastic food! I recommend the Roti Canai, Dry Curry Crab, Mango Shrimp, Belachan String Bean (similar to this recipe), Kang Kung Belachan and Malaysian Pork Chops.

Enjoy! Please share your recipes or favorites.

Other resources:

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