- The yardlong bean, Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized edible bean.
- Despite the name, the pods are actually only about half a yard long; the subspecies name of sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long) is a rather more exact approximation of the pods' length.
- This plant is extensively cultivated in India for its pods, which are often two feet in length, contain a number of pea-like seeds called by the Hindus chowlee and form a considerable article of food.
Know your Yard-long bean - Common names
- The yard-long bean is also known as the long-podded cowpea, asparagus bean, snake bean, or Chinese long bean.
- China: cheung kong tau, dau gok, dow gauk, tseng dou, cai dou, chang dou, chang jiang dou, chang kong tau, jiang dou
- India: lobia
- Indonesia: kacang panjang, otok
- Japan: juroku sasage mame, sasage
- Malaysia: kacang belut, kacang panjang, kacang panjang hijau, kacang perut ayam
- Philippines: banor, hamtak, sitao, sitaw
- Sri Lanka: diya mekaral
- Thailand: tau afuk yaou, tau fug yao, thua chin
- Vietnam: dau dua, dau que
Know your Yard-long bean - Botany
- This plant is of a different genus than the common bean.
- It is a vigorous climbing annual vine.
- A variety of the cowpea, it is grown primarily for its strikingly long (35-75 cm) immature pods and has uses very similar to that of a green bean.
- The pods, which begin to form just 60 days after sowing, hang in pairs.
- The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South-eastern Asia, Thailand, and Southern China.
Know your Yard-long bean - Cultivation
- They are best if picked for vegetable use before they reach full maturity.
- Yard-long beans are quick-growing and daily checking/harvesting is often a necessity.
- The many varieties of yard-long beans are usually distinguished by the different colours of their mature seeds.
- A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land-care.
Know your Yard-long bean - Uses
- The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked. They are at their best when young and slender.
- They are sometimes cut into short sections for cooking uses.
- They are used in stir-fries in Chinese cuisine.
- In Malaysian cuisine they are often stir-fried with chillies and shrimp paste (sambal) or used in cooked salads (kerabu).
- Another popular and healthful option is to chop them into very short sections and fry them in an omelette.
Know your Yard-long bean - Nutrition
- They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.
- In a serving size of 100 grams of yard-long beans there are 47 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium (0% daily value), 8 grams of total carbohydrates (2% daily value), and 3 grams of protein (5% daily value).
- There is also 17% DV vitamin A, 2% DV iron, 31% DV vitamin C, and 5% DV calcium. (Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Individual daily values may be higher or lower depending on individual calorie needs.)