Monday, March 31, 2008

Four-Winged Beans N 2 Kinds of Prawns


Unless there are other more unusually-shaped beans that I don't know of, I'd say the four-winged bean is one unique bean. About 15 cm at their tenderest, with 4 edges that fan out like a 4-angled star, this bean is grown mostly in the backyard (I have them on my fence) and is considered so common and cheap that you won't find them in restaurants. These beans grow like weeds in our tropical weather and at their peak, you can get a small handful of beans every 2 to 3 days from one plant, that's how fast they grow. I like them for their sweet and crunchy taste (no particular flavor, except for a delightful green veg taste) and for the fact that these beans are usually not grown commercially so that when you do find them in the market, you can be sure they are from somebody's garden. The beans oxidise and turn black along the wings quickly, within a day of picking, so that if they are green, you can be sure they were picked that morning.

My mom cooked four-winged beans with a splash of white vinegar. The vinegar turns them an unattractive olive green and makes them taste sour-crunchy. Most of my friends tell me they cook 4-winged beans with dried shrimps or with blacan (fermented prawn paste) and nobody cooked them the way my mom did. I couldn't figure out why mom cooked them that way, and she doesn't even remember that's how she used to cook them. And then I went to Quilin, China, where mom was sent to study as a young girl, and that's when I understood her love for everything sour, even now. In Quilin, you'll find all sorts of pickled fruits and veggies, some of them truly bizarre to me.
I usually fry 4-winged beans with garlic and dried shrimps, very rarely with blacan as most people do because my youngest doesn't like blacan. The Thais do a nice winged bean salad but there's too many ingredients to pick up for that so I've fried a simple home-style dish with both dried and fresh prawns.


Four-Winged Beans N 2 kinds Of Prawns
200g (about 2 bunches) four-winged beans
12 medium fresh prawns*
1 T dried shrimps
1 to 2 cm cube toasted blacan (optional)
1 T minced garlic
some chili strips for garnish
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt, pepper, cornstarch, oil

* omit if you want a simpler dish

1. Cut the beans into thin slices. Shell the prawns and remove the dirt vein. Marinade prawns with 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t sugar, a shake of white pepper, 1/2 t cornstarch and 1/2 T shao xin wine for at lteast 15 minutes. Wash the dried shrimps twice, drain well.

2. Heat the wok and add 1 T oil. Fry the prawns quickly for 1/2 minute, remove. Add 1 to 2 T oil into same wok, put the garlic and the dried shrimps into the hot wok and fry over medium low heat until very fragrant and golden but not burnt (45 seconds). Add blacan if using, fry until fragrant. Throw in the beans. Add 1/3 t salt and fry. Sprinkle some of the chicken stock now and then as you fry to keep the veg moist and prevent it from burning. Add the chili strips. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Dish out when beans are still green; do not overcook. Goes with rice.


ekeng said...

This is my fav vege..i love this vege cook with sambal belacan.

Anonymous said...

HEY ur yard has many "Agricultural products" ..
from sabah vege to jackfruit and to 4Wbeans. wht else are left out here? hehe

frank wif u, i never eaten this 4Wbeans b4. ; (


wmw said...

I love four angle beans, like ekeng, cooked with dry sambal heh bee (dried prawns).

red | hongyi said...

denise u really wanna know??

my mum can get fish from our backyard. FRESH TALAPIA. :D

Mummy why don't you do a post on steamed fish, and use one of our fishies from the backyard? Heehee.

Denise doesn't this make you even more curious what our backyard looks like? :D

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

hongyi ;


Curiosity kills the cat + DENISE!


Anonymous said...

My goodness. Your photography will make me like vegetables again. urgh. LOL.

Hazza said...

I used to take this veg for granted as it grew in our back garden. How I miss it now. Have to pay £1 for about a dozen from Thai shops!

Precious Pea said...

Just a couple of days ago, Hubby suggested to plant tis in our garden. time can i get some sabah vege from you to plant it in my garden too? Plant from seed or stem?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

ekeng: yes, this bean tastes best fried with sambal blacan

denise, yi: should i tell u about the latest? a beautiful kampung cockerel walked in n is living among the hibiscus bushes. at nite it likes to perch on the peach tree. hub/dad said never to harm it; he feeds it everyday.

wmw: yes, tt's the BEST way to cook it :)

lemongrass: wow, thanks, coming frm someone whose photos ruined many a diet...i was directed to ur site by the drool team (" excellent photos, very funny posts") n precious pea n i'm hooked.

hazza: things r always better when not easily available...

precioup: hey, was really great meeting up with u n fam! of course i'll bring u some sayur manis cuttings if/when i go to kl. we always grow them frm cuttings, they root easily.

Smart Payment Plan said...

I would love to try those beans, have never seen them in the usa. I wonder if they have another name? Perhaps I can grow them myself at home

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