If there is a kind of vegetable that I never had a hard time learning to eat while growing up, it has to be sitaw. I had thought for the longest time as a child that sitaw is the green and healthier version of pretzel sticks – sweet, delicious and crispy to the first bite but so tender to chew. My grandma would always be in awe every time she would serve us sitaw as life had made it easier for her unlike in the other households where feeding vegetables and shunning away from chips were an endless battle between the mother and the child.
Comes in other names as string bean, long podded cowpea, snake bean, asparagus bean, green bean or yard-long bean, sitaw is a long and slender podded vegetable that usually are vibrant to pale green in color and grows up to 70 cm. on a vine. The pods are best harvested while still immature and should be eaten fresh or half-cooked to retain the crispy texture. Unlike other varieties of beans, string beans are loaded with less protein but more nutrients and fiber (soluble and insoluble) since the entire green pod is eaten similar to the French beans. Eating green beans is also a suitable alternative diet due to their very low calorie content. A hundred grams of beans only contain about 47 calories. Long string beans is a tropical plant that is widely grown in Southeast Asia and other parts of China. For culinary uses, yard-long beans are usually cut into smaller sections before being steamed or blanched. They are also popularly used in Chinese stir-fry dishes. Green beans are called dau gok in Cantonese. In Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine, where they are referred to as kacang panjang, they are usually sautéed along with chilies and sambal (shrimp paste). Other local names of long green beans are thua fak yao in Thai, bora in West Indies and vali/ eeril in Goa, India. In the Philippines, sitaw is one of the ingredients for pinakbet (a Filipino stir-fry of mixed vegetables and alamang or shrimp paste) and for Adobong Sitaw.
|Adobong Sitaw is definitely a well-loved variety of vegetable adobo by many Filipinos.|
|Sitaw is also known as yard-long beans. (Photo Source: Vignettes from my Fork)|
My grandma never ran out of ways to cook sitaw since it was one of the vegetables that never caused her a hard time feeding to us. She might be a full-bred Ilocana but it did not mean that she was only confined to the stinky-smelling bagoong made dinengdeng/ inabraw or the Ilocano frittata dish (deconstructed version), poki-poki, whose name could be very suggestive when interpreted verbatim in Tagalog dialect. I might sound biased but grandma would never fail to surprise us on how she could easily transform a simple vegetable dish into a drool-worthy plateful of viand. She had that sense of innovativeness in cooking. An instance I can remember was when she tweaked her adobong sitaw. She would add hardboiled eggs for get our attraction and we, the kids, were just over the moon upon looking at the dish since we really love to eat eggs. As an ordinary Filipino adobo is just as simple as stewing your meat or vegetable in the mixture of vinegar, garlic, pepper and soy sauce, grandma’s simple attempt to add a little surprise to the conventional dishes was already enough reason for us to return the favor. Surely it was not her original recipe but the effort and creativity that she would always exert in cooking is no less than an expression of love. So genuine and pure!
If you want to try adobong sitaw, the grandma’s way, just follow my recipe below. It is so easy that it will not take you more than 30 minutes to cook. Just a disclaimer though on the food photo that you have just seen here as it originally belongs to my friend Jason. He was the one who prepared the actual dish in the photo and served to us during dinner but how it looked and tasted like was an inch closed to how grandma used to cook it.
Adobong Sitaw (String Beans Cooked Adobo-style)
Number of Servings: 3 to 4
- 1 bunch sitaw (string beans), trimmed at both ends and cut into 2-inch length (should yield about 3 cups of uniformly cut string beans)
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ½ lb. minced pork
- 1 pc. chicken bouillon cube
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
- 2 pcs. bay leaves
- ¼ tsp. sugar or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup water or as needed
- 2 tbsps. cooking oil
- 3 pcs. eggs, hardboiled and peeled (optional)
- In a large saucepan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Stir fry the pork until the color turns brown and almost rendering fat.
- Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until translucent and very fragrant.
- Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, chicken bouillon cube, sugar and water. Bring to a steady simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not stir.
- Add the string beans and cook for about 5 minutes or until the beans are half-cooked. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Remove from heat and then add the hardboiled eggs (optional). Transfer in a platter and serve along with hot steamed rice. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- You can use bacon or ham instead of pork for added flavor.
- Egg is just optional. If you opt for purely vegan, omit the eggs and pork and substitute them with tofu and mushrooms.
- Do not overcook the string beans to retain its texture.