(Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis)
Yard long bean, long bean, asparagus bean, Chinese long bean, snake bean, pea bean
boonchi (Netherlands Antilles), dau gok chang dou (and other Chinese variations), bodi/boonchi (West Indian)
It may look and act like a long, green, snap bean; but it has quite a different personality.
It is a subspecies of southern peas
and harvested young.
In a few areas of Asia, it is allowed to mature to produce peas similar to their black-eyed siblings. However, it is usually cultivated forits pencil-slim, flexible, lengthy pods, picked when they are about a foot and a half long.
Native to Southern Asia, this bean has a sweeter, and more earthy, flavour than Western garden beans, but are prepared in the same way.
As its name suggests, its length averages about thirty-six inches, or one yard.
The shoelace-like pods are mostly grayish-green, with each pod containing up to thirty edible seeds.
In China and southeast Asia, two types of plants are grown: short ones for the seeds and climbers for the long pods. Most are grown only for their pods and not for the seeds they produce.
Indonesians often eat the bean pods raw.
The Latin botanical name, Vigna, refers to a 17th century scientist and not a vine, as some have suggested. However, the other portion of the botanical name, unguiculata, means “clawed”, but no apparent correlation can be found with that one.
Origin of this bean is equally obscure as it has been in China since prehistoric times and remains an important crop to this day.
Its texture is dense and solid; and, when nicely steamed, it becomes pleasantly nutty and chewy. It is excellent cut into small pieces and stir-fried.
Its keeping qualties are not good, however, and should be used up as soon as possible as it turns limp and rusty very quickly.