Long beans or sitaw as we call them is in the member of the family of legume except they are eaten as green pods unlike other beans like navy beans or azuki beans. They are also called yard long beans or asparagus beans. I remember eating these beans cooked as adobo. It taste good and can be served as a vegetable side dish. But it is mostly used in making “bulanglang” which is a dish consisting of mixed vegetables like eggplant, okra, bittermelon and pumpkin (kabocha). It is also used as an ingredient in what we call “kare-kare” where oxtail is cooked in a sauce flavored with peanuts and toasted rice. The vegetables which are long beans, eggplant, pechay (bok choy)are added when the oxtail is fork-tender. In the Philippines they also use banana hearts in this dish. I substitute artichokes for it because sometimes banana hearts are hard to find.
Long beans are summer vegetables and it is good to start planting the seeds in spring where there is direct sun. It’s better to prepare the trellis or fence for the vines to hold on to before putting the seeds on the ground. I like to plant it directly to where it will grow because transplanting sometimes is not reliable. You don’t want to disturb the roots too much. In one month you will see some white and purple flowers appearing. Bees love the flowers so watch out. It is also advisable not to handle the vines when wet because disease can spread.
I like long beans in the garden. It comes in different colors too. One variety is dark maroon in color and the other I have not tried planting yet is the red variety. I saw it in a garden catalog and maybe order some seeds to start. I always manage to save some seeds for planting the next season, so ordering just a few seeds would be more than enough as long as they thrive and give me a lot of beans. I’m going to take it as a challenge.