The Grocer: Snake Beans

A bean by many names, the Chinese snake bean is a long pod that can grow up to 40 cm in length.

Often categorised as asparagus beans or yardlong beans, snake beans are lighter in colour than regular green beans and boast an asparagus-like flavour. These lengthy, slender pods come from a subtropical plant that is widely grown in Southeast Asia, and are related to cowpeas and black-eye peas.

Slightly softer than its Western counterpart, the snake bean can be delicious as a standalone side or added to a stir-fry or salad, in the same way everyday green beans are used.

You can grow snake beans during the warmer months, as the poor little fellas are sensitive to cold nights and frost. Sow your seeds towards the end of spring when the soil is warm, and you can expect to be feasting on your bounty of beans come February. The long pods will begin to emerge after the plant’s flowers have disappeared. Once you’ve collected the beans, store them in the fridge crisper for three to five days. Or if your balcony won’t accommodate a sizeable vegetable garden, find snake beans at your local grocer from February.

To use your snake bean stash, try tossing them through a papaya salad, prepare a bunch alongside some cauliflower and almonds, fry them with a little garlic, make them into dipping circles on skewers, or try cooking them in this pork belly and black bean recipe.

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