Winged Bean

Psophocarpus tetragonologus purpurea is also called the winged pea, asparagus bean, asparagus pea, dambala, goa bean, and Manila bean. Its name refers to the 4 lengthwise ribs—"wings"—that develop on its seed pods. It's a remarkable tropical legume, a food plant from southern Asia that's widely grown in Asia and Europe but is little known in the United States. This is a pretty climbing plant (10 to 12 feet) that endures heat well but can't endure frost. It flowers only when the days are short. So your seasonal window of opportunity for growing it is narrow unless you live in a subtropical zone. It grows best with support—against fences or walls or with corn. Winged beans are said to prefer clay to sandy soils. It can self-seed. Southern Seeds says it "requires ample moisture and likes cool weather . . . should be planted in the fall-winter-spring season in the Deep South ... is daylight-sensitive and will set flower only when the days are short. . . enhances soil fertility." Seeds are available from Hudson, Park, and Thompson <Sr Morgan. green Pods: This is a very nourishing plant. It's one of the few whose every part is edible, tasty, and very good for you. After about 50 days, the seed pods will be mature enough to be eaten like snap beans—that is, you eat both the pod and the peas inside it. Harvest by the time they reach 1 inch long, or else they'll start to get tough. If you let the pods get beyond that young stage, you've got shell beans rather than snap beans. They're good steamed with pineapple and banana and served with pork steak. Or stir-fried with peanuts and strips of coconut meat and served with taro. Or boiled with sliced mushrooms, bamboo, and pork.

W> STIR-FRIED WINGED BEANS From Southern Seeds: "Heat wok. Add 2 T. peanut oil. Add Vi lb. winged beans, rinsed and cut up, and I diced, small onion. Stir-fry 5 to 8 minutes until crunchy but cooked. (To keep beans from drying out, add a little water as needed.) Blend I T. soy sauce, I t. Asian sesame paste (or 2 t. tahini or creamy peanut butter), minced garlic, and hot pepper flakes to taste. Add to beans; toss to coat. Season and serve hot." mature Pods: Discard the pod and use the seeds like green shell beans—roasted, boiled, steamed, or fried. Dried, shelled winged beans are good cooked casserole-style, with fish and corn added toward the end. Or make a soup with them, using any basic dried bean recipe. Or use in a soup with lots of onions, carrots, rice, and a bone. Or serve cooked plain beans in a molasses sauce with roast fish or beef. Or steam mature pods (2-3 inches long) 15 to 20 minutes; then eat them like artichoke leaves by dipping singly into an individual container of melted butter, eating off the tender outside of the pod. Throw away the tough center. Roots, Stem, Leaves, Flowers: Winged bean roots also bear small, edible tubers, which are high in both protein and potato-type starch! You can eat the tubers either raw or cooked potato-style. The stem and leaves are nourishing too and can be cooked and eaten. They taste like spinach. Add them to stews, soups, and other vegetable recipes. The flowers are edible too; steam or fry them.

Continue reading here: Yardlong Bean

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