Funky Spicy Green Beans

Funky Spicy Green Beans

I love vegetables of all kinds and feel it is my duty to give you a chance to love them too with interesting recipes. This green bean one bursts with flavor, and is great on its own or served as a set with other dishes.  It’s fast and incredibly fresh tasting.  It’s a perfect make ahead dish because it’s just as delicious at room temperature or even straight out of the fridge. My Funky Spicy Green beans are at home at your holiday dinner, but play nicely at brunch too.  You also get to take out some of your aggression by pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle, and in 2020 who among us doesn’t have a little extra aggression? 


green bean ingredients



This recipe has two ingredients you may be unfamiliar with, lemongrass and rice powder. Lemongrass can be found at some specialty stores like Whole Foods, and at Asian grocers. If I’m being honest, I don’t really think there’s a good substitute for lemongrass. You can use lemon zest in its place, but you will really be missing out on the authentic punch of almost astringent (in a good way!) citrusy flavor. Look for stalks that are firm and fragrant. It is common for the grassy tops to be on the dry side, but you don’t want them to be super brown and withered.

They are usually sold in a bunch, like scallions. You will only be using the bottom bulb portion, so trim away the top stalky leaves, and about a 1/4 inch of the most fibrous part from the bottom. Then, you will need to peel away the tough outer layer, until you get to the bright green, tender part of the stalk.  For this recipe you are going to finely chop it, so it will be easier to pound in the mortar and pestle.

Or you could use the great cheat product we use in our restaurants-frozen minced lemongrass.

Rice Powder

Rice powder is made from raw white rice that is first toasted and then very finely ground.  It is typically used in Asian cooking to add texture and a toasty flavor.  It’s gluten free, so that makes it a good ingredient to have on hand for people with gluten sensitivities. 

rice powder

rice powder

Use a mortar and pestle

I know that not everyone has a mortar and pestle. But you should!  This inexpensive kitchen tool has been around for centuries, for good reason.  Pounding out aromatics like ginger, garlic, and lemongrass gently bruises them and keeps their essential oils intact.  Those oils contain all the flavor. Grinding them into a pulverized paste with high powered electric blades overheats them, and destroys a lot of that flavor.  And from a practical standpoint, when you are processing less than a cup of ingredients, they fly all over the work bowl of your processor and you have to keep turning it off and unlocking it to scrape down the sides. It’s more efficient to pound them in your mortar. However, if you find yourself longing for your food processor, have at it; no one will judge. And it will still taste great.

mortar green beans

pounded ingredients


Once you have your ingredients prepped and then pounded the spice paste, the cooking part of the recipe takes just minutes.  First you are going to take your lovely shallots, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and chile paste and cook for a few minutes. Let all of that incredible fragrance bloom! Then you add your trimmed green beans, fish sauce, sugar, and stir fry until the beans are crisp tender. You can add a little water if the pan gets too dry and things start sticking. This shouldn’t be a really saucy dish though. It should be lightly caramelized green beans with chunky bits of your flavor bomb paste. 



This makes a wonderful side to grilled fish or meat, or you can serve it with rice for a Meatless Monday meal. You are going to love this crunchy, salty, spicy, funky, and healthy dish.  If you make our Funky Spicy Green Beans, we want to know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!


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funky spicy green beans

Funky Spicy Green Beans

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: side
  • Cuisine: Fusion


Salty, savory, funky, spicy green beans!


  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ground black pepper to taste

For the spice paste:

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, top half discarded, and finely chopped or 1 tablespoon frozen minced lemongrass 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh Chili, trimmed and sliced (take out the seeds if you prefer it less spicy)
  • 1 large shallot, trimmed, halved, and sliced

For the rice powder:

  • 1/4 cup raw medium or long grain white rice*


  1. Make the rice powder: Place the raw rice in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook the rice for 5-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until it’s a light brown color and has a toasty fragrance. Pour the rice into the mortar and crush the grains and then grind it until it resembles the texture of sand. Pour the powder into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, ginger, chili and shallot in the mortar bowl. Pound and grind the ingredients until you have a paste.
  3. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Then add the spice paste and cook for 2-3 mins to bloom the spices and enhance the flavor.
  4. Add the green beans, fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper to taste.
  5. Stir-fry for 3-4-mins until crisp tender, adding a couple tablespoons of water to keep the spices from burning and the beans steam-frying.
  6. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed with a little more fish sauce or sugar. 
  7. Serve immediately.


You can make this vegan by eliminating the fish sauce. Use soy sauce and coconut aminos in its place.

  • This recipe will yield more rice powder than you need; however it is difficult to toast a tiny amount of rice. Store unused rice powder in the freezer where it will keep for several weeks. Use it to top salads, especially those with thai flavors.

Keywords: vegetables, sides,

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3 thoughts on “Funky Spicy Green Beans”

  • This sounds good but your recipe needs some clarification. I understand using the frozen minced lemongrass if you can find it, but why would you mince garlic and ginger if you’re going to be smashing them anyway? Sliced or chopped would be fine, and that aligns with what is shown in the picture of the ingredients in the mortar. The chili is pictured as sliced and deseeded in the mortar, but the instructions/ingredient list don’t say to do that.

    Now for the real problems. Six shallots is a LOT. Don’t you mean six shallot cloves? Even that seems overpowering and is certainly more than what is pictured. And the rice powder is listed in the ingredients and mentioned in your writeup but isn’t in the instructions at all. When do you add it?

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