This weekend I stocked up on makrut lime leaves, chile paste, and other fine things at Lao Market (Oakland, CA). If you're into Thai or Lao cooking and live in the Bay Area, you owe it to yourself to visit.
Some interesting-looking bean pods caught my eye on the way out, and I added them to my purchase. There were no English-speakers in the store at the time, so I figured I'd look the pods up in my Plants of SE Asia book when I got home. On the way to the car, the owner of the Cambodian market next door (this neighborhood is an Asian cook's dream) came out to the sidewalk and admired the beans sticking out of my bag, asking me what I was planning to do with them. I was about to ask her what she'd do with them -- and what they're called, of course -- when her phone rang and she rushed back in to the store to answer it. I lingered on the sidewalk with my bag 'o' bean pods for a few minutes, feeling as awkward as a guy lingering on the sidewalk with a bag 'o' bean pods, then headed for my car.
I couldn't find the bean pods in my book, so I appeal to you, dear Chowhounds. Any idea what these are (see photo) or what they're good for? They sure are attractive, but I didn't get the sense they're sold for decoration. The tentative nibble I took didn't have any discernible flavor.
(Big image at http://tinyurl.com/md6zwu)
1619 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606