The mystery of Chinese ‘board beans’…

DSCF15512Sometimes I like to look a0round in exotic shops in the big city just to see what kind of, well, exotic stuff they have in there… That’s how I bought some weird-looking white dry beans in an Asian supermarket, where they had a lot more weird legume stuff I’d never seen or heard about. It’s actually the kind of small Asian supermarket where one wouldn’t be surprised to find small amounts of dried foods from all important planet in the galaxy hidden in certain dark corners, but where you also can find your Lipton ice tea green in small bottles… The ones I bought  were labelled ‘board beans’ in English, which I suppose to be a spelling error for ‘broad beans’ (Vicia faba), since they were called ‘fèves’ in French and ‘tuinbonene’ in dutch, both names for fava beans. Chinese labelling can sometimes have the weirdest mistakes in their translations.

I bought those seeds out of curiosity, because I had never seen any broad bean like this.The seeds were white and  really flat, overall not bigger than a pumpkin seed unit and not thicker than 2 pumpkin seeds, and with some white fluffy stuff on them I can’t name.

I quite doubted from the beginning that they were actual fava beans, first just because the seeds do not look at them to me, I’ve never seen completely white broad beans nor have I seen them with the white thingy on it I can’t name… But it became more clear they were something completely different afterwards, when I put in some of those seeds in a pot with favas aDSCF15602nd peas that I grew for shoots to use as a vegetable in the tichen=, Something complete unlike fava seedlings came up, pulling the seed up and giving single heart-shaped bean leaves…(The seedlings on the picture are a bit light-colored and too long because they were grown with not that much light in a pot with pea and fava been shoots to have a bit of a blanching effect)

Some beaniac on the Alan Bishop forum identified them for me as a Chinese variety of Lablab or hyacint beans (Lablab purpureus) which is both grown as an ornamental and a vegetable in warmer regions, but of which the mature seeds are said to be poisonous. Which is weird, since these white ones are grown for the edible seed and sold as drying beans… Apparently the white variety does not contain the toxines of the purple varieties, any spotted seeds or seeds with a dark hilum should be discarded though…

I will definitely grow some of these out when I plant my beans around the last day of expected frost (half may). I don’t know if I can expect much, but I can try…

3 reacties
  1. akgpodcast zei:

    They do look more like pumpkin seeds. How strange!

  2. Guilherme Reis Ranieri zei:

    Hey! I just loved your blog. I’m brazilian, and here this bean is known as a non-conventional crop, but still is used in the countryside. I’m doing a research about non-conventional vegetables, so I’ve been studying this bean. In Brazil, the most popular variety is the dark read bean, with white flowers. This variety is edible as well, but the beans need to be boiled. You can eat the mature dry beans, or eat the pods. Never forget to boil the pods and change the water, than sauteé in butter with salt and pepper.

    In some places, this vegetable is a invasive crop, and spreads very quickly. But I do believe in your country, because of the frosts, you don’t will have this problems.

    Oh, I’m vegetarian, but there’s a brazilian very traditional recipe with this bean.

    Soak the beans overnight in water. Chop 3 large onions, 1 red mild pepper, 4 garlics. Fry in a small amount of oil the onion until tender. Add the chopped pepper, and the garlic. Add a sliced smocked sausage. Is important to be smocked, not a fresh one. Maybe some bacon. Fry for a few seconds the meat, than add the beans, without the water. Cover with the double beans volume of fresh water, plus a bit of salt, and let it boil until tender (aprox 1 hour). The beans need to be soft and the sauce, not too liquid (you can smash some beans to tick the sauce). Finish with some very finely chopped parsley. Garnish with a salad with some finely chopped kale and some cherry tomatoes, and sure, olive oil.

    If you want to talk about non-traditional weeds, recipes or related things, just send me an e-mail:

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