Bataw-Lablab – is a relative of the purple-hyacinth bean. It is a perennial vine that needs a trellis in order to grow vigorously. It is a prolific bloomer. The flowers are clustered and lavender in color like the sweet-pea. The beans formed in a pod after the flowers and look like a lima bean except for the purple color around the perimeter of the pod. When the beans are 2 -3 inches long, you have to pick them otherwise, they will form seeds and mature and would be hard to chew.
It is easy to grow from the seed. It needs a lot of moisture during the growing season, and it pretty much takes care of itself. Once you plant this vine, you’ll be assured of a long harvest once it starts to take off. It is best to amend the soil with lots of organic compost before planting the seeds. Then apply fertilizer when you see spikes of flower forming. The bees like the flowers so watch out!
The seeds are the only means of propagation that I know so let some fruits mature and turn brown and dry them and save for the next season. The seeds have a distinctive feature. It has a bright white line on the edge of the brown-colored seed. You probably need to soak the seeds overnight before planting because of the hard shell.
Bataw is mainly for culinary use. The bean has more texture than the sugar snow peas but it is delicious just the same. It is used in stir fry combined with bean thread noodle or vermicelli (we call this noodle sotanghon) or steamed by itself. You can combined the bataw with other recipes that calls for beans as a substitute like pinakbet or sinigang soup (equivalent of Thai’s Tom Yum soup). You can also French-cut it like green beans and sauté with bits of bacon and butter and serve as a side dish. Do not overcook to obtain a crunchy texture. Bataw is very delicious and I highly recommend it.