I had several interesting finds at the market yesterday, from the mundane to the highly unusual. This trio of beans from that memorable line in the â€œBahay Kuboâ€ song are sitaw, bataw and patani. Photographed together, they resulted in a terrific still life, and it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful and colorful fresh produce can be. While they might be considered everyday items at the market, not many people know much about each bean and rarely do households these days typically use all three on a regular basis. For me, the most common and used in our household is definitely sitaw or yard long beans. I buy this practically every week at the market and it might end up in a rich and delicious sitaw at kalabasa dish with gata (coconut milk), or in a soup, or perhaps even a curry. I like the texture of this bean when just cooked; it â€œfightsâ€ with you as you chew it. Extremely economical, and I presume highly nutritious, it goes a long way in several Pinoy dishes. Even just sautÃ©ed with some pork and patis (fish sauce) it tastes good to meâ€¦
The second bean is bataw or lablab or hyacinth bean (lablab purpureus) which is a greenish bean pod with purplish tinge that is typically soldin local markets in an â€œimmatureâ€ stage, to be used whole as a vegetable. It is included by some folks in their pinakbet, for example. I understand the mature beans dried are either white,or very dark, almost black. They have to be boiled and cooked well to remove some natural toxins. Believed to have originated somewhere in Asia or Africa, it now grows in many parts of the world, often raised for its foliage and flowers as an ornamental plant in the West, but mainly as food in Asia, India and Africa. The seeds can also be ground into flour and used to make bread or a porridge type concoction.
Finally, the last picture here is of patani or lima (Phaseolus lunatus) beans. These beans are already peeled or taken out of their large green pods. They had some still in their pods but they were strung up into a huge bean necklace and the vendors wanted too much money for them so I settled for the peeled version. The lima bean is believed to be native to Peru and dates back to 7000 BC in archeological sites, according to Alan Davidson in his book, The Oxford Companion to Food. Also referred to as â€œbutter beansâ€ in some parts of the United States, and Madagascar beans in other parts of the world, this versatile bean can be used in soups, boiled and mashed into a spread, etc. Frankly, I donâ€™t know how to use this bean or even the bataw in very many waysâ€¦ I am curious how you guys use either the bataw or pataniâ€¦