Yard-long bean

Other Names: Asparagus bean, _bodi_or boonchi (West Indies), dow gauk (China), snake bean.

General Description: Yard-long beans (Vigna unguiculata) are members of the legume family closely related to black-eyed peas. Yard-long beans are pencil thin with thin flexible pods that grow as much as 3 feet long, though they are normally picked at 1 1/2 feet. Yard-long beans have been cultivated so long their origins are unknown, but Africa and Asia are most probable. They have been grown in China since prehistoric times and remain an important crop there. Yard-long beans are also grown in the Far East, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. They have a pronounced flavor with a dense, solid texture that is chewy when cooked.

Season: Yard-long beans are available year-round, primarily in Asian markets.

Purchase: Choose thin, relatively smooth, blemish-free beans without noticeable bulging.

Avoid: Do not but yard-long beans with overly developed seed in bumpy pods or dry, limp, or rusty-looking beans.

Storage: Store yard-long beans in plastic in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.


  1. Cut off both ends.
  2. Cut into suitable lengths, from 2 to 6 inches long.

Serving Suggestions: Deep-fry yard-long beans, a popular Asian method of preparing them. Add short lengths of yard-long beans to vegetable or meat stews and simmer together about 20 minutes. Add short lengths of slow-cooked yard-long beans to fried rice. Braise yard-long beans with strong flavored condiments such as Chinese fermented black beans, ginger, fish sauce, tamarind, or chili sauce.

Food Affinities: Asian chili sauce, Chinese fermented black beans, coconut milk, curry, garlic, ginger, onion, sausage, soy sauce, tamarind.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com