21 Jul2009


From seed to table. It sounds so ideal. And I suppose lots of folks could still meet this ideal, at least those with gardens during the summer in Western countries and for most of the year in the tropics. But so many of us now rely directly on the airconditioned groceries closest to home that it’s easy to forget what really fresh produce is like. Personally, I try to buy more and more produce from markets and farmer’s markets, but I still rely on groceries for some 20-25% of our vegetable and fruit consumption at home. Maybe the romance of picking your own produce has something to do with the appeal, but one really does forget how vegetables are supposed to look, feel and taste when they are quite literally, fresh off the vine. I distinctly recall my first experience with “growing our own” when I was just 5 or 6 years old… oddly, it was a strawberry patch in our front lawn in quezon city. Someone must have brought some strawberry seedlings down from Baguio and I was utterly fascinated with them, though I honestly don’t recall if we ever managed to coax a berry out of them in the Manila heat.


While I have seen and been on the sidelines of several home vegetable gardens over the past 30 years, I can’t say I really got down and dirty, and I would rather harvest than sow. :) But I do appreciate just how incredibly wonderful it is to pick the produce and cook it minutes later. These sitaw vines were planted in early May and had sprouted days after sown.


They quickly found their way up bamboo vines, aided by unusually wet weather for Cebu in May.


By the third week of June, flowers and little sitaw started to appear…


…growing what seemed like several inches a week…


…and I harvested this first bunch of sitaw or long beans last week (some 10-11 weeks after we planted them)! They were fantastic! Most dishes use sitaw as a filler or one of several vegetables… but when you have farm fresh sitaw, I like them best in adobong sitaw, where sitaw is the main ingredient, along with a little pork and the soy, vinegar and a little garlic if you like it. Yum.



  1. Gener says:

    Extra ordinary lenght! fresh from the stems-straight to mouth is what i called true fresh prepared..this is what i enjoyed even on just breaking them into certain sizes. main vegetable for PAKBET and even best for sinigang! make sense that philippine vegetables are better in taste compare to other countries and i cannot explain why? anyone observed that? Adobong sitaw can be best eating it alone with chopsticks as what i enjoyed a lot! love it with orange juice in between..

    Jul 21, 2009 | 3:16 pm


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  3. sanojmd says:

    never seen sitaw that long here.. and so fresh. i love adobong sitaw with pork mince.. yummm!

    Jul 21, 2009 | 3:53 pm

  4. Mila says:

    Those are amazing! It reminds of Hugh Whittingstall’s gardening/farming attempts, competing in the village fair for who has the longest marrows or largest cabbages.
    Hope your limes grow well in the Cebu soil, so you can harvest lots of them for kilawin (and other tasty treats!).

    Jul 21, 2009 | 4:11 pm

  5. betty q. says:

    Sitao: fancy schmancy name here …they call them asparagus beans. They also come in 3 colors now…the green ones…and there’s red and black ones. However, when cooked, they still turn green!

    MIL first preps it by frying it in SMOKING HOT OIL until tender crisp and sort of wrinkled skin and slightly charred. I prefer using brined prawns, rinsed thoroughy and squeeze and then season with a little sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch, canola oil, dry sherry, white pepper. …then hot smoking oil again, pan fry the prawns till they turn pink only and remove. Then stir fry quickly, the aromatics, like garlic and ginger , a few cut up dried chilies, prawns and the sitao. …touch of chicken stock and chinese red wine vinegar (just a squirt), sugar, sesame oil and cover with lid and eat with steamed rice! Hubby likes it cooked this way since it has that smoky Chinese taste and like KUNG PAO.

    Jul 21, 2009 | 4:27 pm

  6. TINA says:

    I love sitaw..especially talbos ng sitaw, blanched and eaten with bagoong and rice..

    Jul 21, 2009 | 5:24 pm

  7. THELMA says:

    looks like the sitaw vines climbing on my bamboo trellis! flowers are everywhere and i am so looking forward to harvesting sitaw from my backyard. i started planting them from seeds and it’s exciting to see them grow everyday….

    Jul 21, 2009 | 7:25 pm

  8. Connie C says:

    I like sitao cooked in light coconut milk with tom kha paste (ready prepared in envelope) or from scratch. Nice if you like the tangy taste with the extra richness of the coconut milk.


    Jul 21, 2009 | 7:29 pm

  9. suzette says:

    fresh sitaw + rice washing + ginger= simply good!

    Jul 21, 2009 | 8:49 pm

  10. Bong says:

    Handsome looking crop you got there!!!

    Jul 21, 2009 | 9:41 pm

  11. lyna says:

    we have a type of sitaw here which is so curled up and the skin is so wrinkled. It is also slightly bigger in circumference than the regular sitaw. But it is very crunchy and the seeds actually taste like boiled peanuts when cooked. I’m not sure if it is available there.

    Jul 21, 2009 | 11:17 pm

  12. eej says:

    MM, your photos speak eloquently, I can feel the warm air and smell the soil.

    Jul 21, 2009 | 11:30 pm

  13. Jane Amora says:

    indeed! great for adobong sitaw! :)

    Jul 21, 2009 | 11:56 pm

  14. Maria Clara says:

    That’s a real fresh looking sitaw you got there. BettyQ, Your MIL and your fried sitaw dish sounds delicious. I like much sauteed sitaw with shrimp, bagoong paste and the sitaw tendrils.

    Jul 22, 2009 | 2:29 am

  15. Jason says:

    Nung bata ako yan ang paborito ko gulay. Ngayon tumanda na eh sitaw pa din.

    organically grown ba karamihan ng sitaw dito?

    Jul 22, 2009 | 3:41 am

  16. Maricel says:

    One of our cooks used to add a can of liver spread to adobong sitaw.

    Jul 22, 2009 | 8:12 am

  17. Gej says:

    The best produce will always be that grown in one’s garden!

    We haven’t met up. You will always be welcome to visit the farm. Next time you are in Tagaytay or Santa Rosa.

    It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog daily.

    Gejo – Kitchen Herbs Farm

    Jul 22, 2009 | 10:49 am

  18. Marketman says:

    Gej,, yes, I HAVE been absolutely meaning to pass by your farm. Will try to do that within the next month or so… :)

    Jul 22, 2009 | 11:15 am

  19. lyna says:

    Gej, sama kami kay MM, he he he. Is your farm open to the public? Do you have a restaurant on the farm?

    Jul 22, 2009 | 11:49 am

  20. natie says:

    i love this blog because of all the other recipes from the ‘comments’ too. helps with menu-planning…thanks!!!

    Jul 22, 2009 | 11:51 am

  21. diday says:

    MM, try cooking the young beans – seeds have not developed yet. Cook the way you like it but sauté the beans for some 2 minutes and not to overcook otherwise they will lose their crunchy tender bite. Sprinkle with chilli powder.

    Jul 22, 2009 | 12:20 pm

  22. thelma says:

    bettyq, i like your sitaw recipe. i am sure that my family will like it, too. i think that we have ordered this when we went to a very good chinese restaurant. bettyq, you should compile all your great recipes into a cookbook. you may also include the picture of your garden. you’re such a great cook and a gardener. i, myself, am grateful to you for sharing with us your wealth of information when it comes to cooking and gardening….

    Jul 23, 2009 | 2:49 am

  23. farida says:

    I like to cook my sitaw like MM but I will try bettyq’s recipe. Sounds delicious. Altho I just have the regular pole beans now. It is difficult to get nice and fresh sitaw here.
    bettyq, I have to try your way of making a compost and also amending the clayish soil we have here. Just digging into the hardened soil is so depressing. I envy the soil featured in Gardening with Cisco. So fertile and loose.

    Jul 23, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  24. pinay in dutchland says:

    reminds me of the sweetness of provincial life. like you mentioned, i also love sitaw best in adobo with warm white rice. sumptuous!

    Jul 23, 2009 | 2:40 pm

  25. betty q. says:

    I say …life is hard enough as it is, Farida, so as much as possible if there is an easy way to do things, I am all for it!

    Jul 23, 2009 | 4:39 pm

  26. wilde says:

    Talbos ng sitao also tastes good. Don’t let those young leaves go waste. :)

    Those sitao beans would go well with tinapa to make the freshest dinengdeng.

    Jul 23, 2009 | 6:02 pm

  27. QueenB says:

    Yup! adobo is also what I thought of when I saw those really fresh sitaw. Yum with lots of rice!

    Jul 24, 2009 | 11:21 am

  28. atbnorge says:

    I can’t agree more—I just want to eat all the sitaw I could eat in one sitting. Reminds me of the days when Father used to send me to San Andres in Malate to buy the sitaw seeds from the Bureau of Plants. The sitaw we harvested were almost a meter long!!! It’s in the compost, you know.

    Jul 25, 2009 | 8:39 pm

  29. t2rad says:

    would love to grow my own sitaw! wonder if it will do well in containers… ah, the travails of apartment life!

    Jul 28, 2009 | 8:47 pm

  30. betty q. says:

    t2rad…anything can be grown in containers even water plants nowadays. Get a nice big deep bucket like half an oak barrel or an 8 gallon nurserypot if you can get it. …compost, mznure and top soil. Then put 3 sticks (abouyt 8 feet high and make a tripod. Then plant your sitao seeds around the base of the tripod. Sitao needs a lot of heat. So position the pot near a wall on your patio that gets the most sun. The wall absirbs the heat and benefits the sitao plant. Do not interplant though with onions and anything in the allium family. Onions and legumes do not like each other.

    Jul 29, 2009 | 12:43 am

  31. atbnorge says:

    Hei betty_q, speaking of two different plants liking each other, I read from an old Cosmopolitan Magazine (when it was not yet riddled with tips about sex and all that rubbish)that roses can benefit from planting garlic along in the same pot or bed. Have you tried that?

    Jul 31, 2009 | 4:09 am

  32. betty q. says:

    atbnorge: yuppers! garlic repels not only vampires or asuang? or voles but also APHIDS which like to hang around roses!

    Jul 31, 2009 | 6:51 am

  33. emsy says:

    the greatest comfort food of mine (as in what makes me feel better after a guy left me for another guy or similar heartaches) is ginisang sitaw. sautee pork chunks until the fat renders and the flesh is crispy, add a bit of garlic and onion and add soy sauce then add super fresh sitaw. with lots and lots of rice.

    i remember how much we enjoyed fresh, just-picked sitaw and talong because a generous neighbor had a superbly fruiting plot. sigh.

    Nov 9, 2009 | 2:55 pm

  34. shiela says:

    Is there anyone knows where to buy sitaw seeds online? pls help me, thank you very much…

    Feb 19, 2010 | 7:25 am

  35. azileliza galura says:

    try ko palagi na mag tanim ng sitaw dito sa UK kaso di ako makabuhay hanggang sa maubos na ung dala ko seeds ng sitaw pati amplaya kaya nag sesearch ako sa kung paano bumuhay ng sitaw dito sa uk…thanks natutwa ako sa mga picture ninyo…

    Apr 26, 2011 | 5:38 am


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