I used to say I could live off sitaw everyday; it’s my favorite vegetable. Plus, I know MANY ways of preparing it: boiled, stir-fried with garlic, blanched and slathered with oyster sauce, batter-fried, adobado, and included in dishes like sinigang, kare-kare, bulanglang.
Sitaw is known in many markets as yard-long beans. Its scientific name, vigna unguiculata, subspecies sesquipedalis, means something else. Let’s break down that last Latin word: pedalis means “foot;” sesqui means “six.”
What it’s saying is that the yard-long bean is a foot and six inches long — 18 inches, give or take. Certainly not a yard long!
The more appropriate monikers would be Chinese long beans, Asian beans, long podded cowpea and — here’s another name that seems inappropriate — asparagus bean. The plant that bears the sitaw is nowhere fern-like, as the asparagus is. Therefore, I have to dig further as to how that last name came about.
I would venture that the name sitaw was adapted from the bean’s Chinese name, Dou Jiao.