Thursday, April 16, 2009

Balsamic Snake Beans

Sitaw, also known as long beans, or even more excitingly as snake beans (shiver-shiver), are a standard fixture in my organic veggie basket. It is a vegetable commonly found at the markets here. Pretty much most of us grew up eating it in one form or the other – and I can hazard a guess that the form most common was adobong sitaw.

Adobo is arguably our National Dish, being cooked in a plethora of versions from one end of our archipelago to the other (and beyond!). Every cook has their own version and you can find my basic one here (although I must admit I have more versions besides!). We can turn any edible into adobo...from chicken to pork to beef to lamb (I love this!) to seafood to vegetables. And adobong sitaw, long beans cooked with soy sauce and vinegar, is one of the most typical veggie-adobos around.

Adobong sitatw is also one of C’s favourite vegetable dishes so that, along with it being a regular in our veggie-basket, is the reason that it is often present in our dining table. Although C can wolf this down all day any day, I need a little more variation. I decided to try this dish using balsamic vinegar after seeing a similar preparation in a magazine. It is simple to make and provides a nice, tasty alternate to a much-loved but too-oft-repeated dish!

*I’ve gone with snake beans in the title because I think it sounds sexy and dangerous...which is not something beans are often given the chance to be! ;)

Balsamic Snake Beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 300 gram bundle of sitaw/snake beans/long beans, chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Heat oil and garlic in a wok/kawali or skillet (this way the garlic will infuse the oil without burning).
- Once the garlic’s aroma wafts up, and it starts to sizzle, add the sitaw/snake beans and toss so everything is coated in garlicky oil. Sautee until almost done.
- Add balsamic vinegar and sautee until the vinegar’s acidic smell mellows, tossing once or twice to make sure all the beans are coated in the caramelizing vinegar.
- Season generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Serves 2.

I love the sweet-sharp tang that the balsamic vinegar lends this dish, rounded out by the spicy-savouriness of the garlic. Paired simply with olive oil, sea salt, and lots of cracked black pepper, it is proof that you can get fantastic flavour using good ingredients without much fuss. The garlic-black pepper-vinegar blend is reminiscent of our adobong sitaw just enough for you to recognize a smidgen of comforting familiarity among bright new flavours.

I hope to post more about other vegetable preparations I stumble on in the ongoing adventure of trying to use every single leaf and bulb in our veggie-basket. For me, it’s an exciting challenge I always look forward to! If anyone wants to share other sitaw/snake bean/long bean recipes, please do and I will make it with my future batches! Credit to you of course :)

Tomorrow I am getting half a kilo of kalamansi with my basket, which I plan to turn into icy-cold, kalamansi juice...another way to combat the Manila summer heat!


jacqui | happyjackeats said...

oooh i love long beans! and i'm going to start calling them snake beans because it sounds so much cooler.

Allen of EOL said...

I love long beans too - the use of balsamic sounds delicious.

Shalum said...

ooooh. i love sitaw with lots of garlic and some soy sauce. what a lovely shot of this vegetable :)

Shalum said...

ooooh. i love sitaw with lots of garlic and some soy sauce. what a lovely shot of this vegetable :)

Socky said...

I've always wanted to experiment with pork/chicken adobo using balsamic vinegar. I've read about some people doing this. But it just sounds like heresy. Have you tried it?

Will definitely try your snake beans!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

These look like the long beans I buy in my local Asian grocery. I never knew what they were called. Thanks for the great post.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Looks like you made short work of these snake beans ;0) The balsamic would be perfect for these.
I saw these a year or more ago at an oriental market in Dallas - long drive from our house - and they looked incredible! Hard to believe they really could grow that long.

Manggy said...

I LOVE beans! Sitaw is awesome, and this is certainly a delicious way to class it up :)
I have an ancient recipe I posted here: String Beans in Sa-cha sauce-- was better the second time I made it (when my dad requested it!), cos that time, I actually tasted if it was salty/spicy enough!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jacqui! I’ve always called them sitaw...but yes, snake beans sounds so much cooler!

Hi Allen! It is...hope you try it! :)

Hi Shalum! Thank was easy to “direct” ;)

Hi Socky! I use a mix of red wine vinegar and balsamic (I’m too cheap to go full day!) for my lamb adobo and I think it tastes lovely! I don’t think there is such a thing as heresy when it comes to adobo :) Its ability to be so delicious in so many different variations is what I love most about it :) Like how we Filipinos can adapt to so many different environments and still maintain our awesomeness ;)

Hi Lydia! Glad you enjoyed the post!

Hi Tanna! I’ve taken them for granted I fear because they are so commonly available here, but they are really fantastic to cook with!

Hi Manggy! Oh yum! I will check out your bean recipe...sounds delicious!

Roseanne said...

Hi there, I also get vegetables from Shino . . . just want to thank you for giving me new cooking ideas. I'm running out of ideas preparing the same vegetables weekly. Would appreciate recipes for okra and mustasa as well. Your kangkong recipe was a hit for my family.

Ilva said...

This is such an excellent idea and I am happy that I will not have to wait long now for snake beans to appear here!

Rebekka said...

I have never seen these beans, and I have to say...I'm kind of jealous!

betty q. said...

Another cool name for sitao in this part of the globe is ASPARAGUS BEANS! I grew trio colored sitao one, RED (more like chocolate brown) and a black one. when eaten raw, eye appealing but it changed color to green when cooked!

Erin said...

Oh Joey, no. I have this fear of wildly irrational fear of snakes and was already mildly suspect of long beans. Now it's been confirmed. Your recipe sounds delicious though. Maybe I'll be able to try this if I make Phil buy the beans and prep them for me while I hide in the corner.
I did say it was an irrational fear. ;)

Kamana said...

never tried them with balsamic. sounds good.

Elyse said...

I've never seen snake beans before, but I love a good green bean. Can't wait to try out your recipe--especially because of the balsamic. What a fabulous flavor profile you've got going on!

katiez said...

I love the name... and I love beans, although I've never had these. I'll sub the ones I grow this summer!

Ling said...

The thought of your sauteed longbeans and the kalamansi juice is making my mouth water... it's so damn hot here too, and this is the kind of hot weather grub that I could really use now!

My Year Without said...

Amazing. Love the pictures and description. I love green beans and always enjoy new ways of preparing them. Thanks for sharing!

Watergirl said...

The first photo is cool, the beans are freshly washed, the water droplets hanging on make it look quite succulent.
Stay cool with the kalamansi! I wish I could blow some of the cooler air I have here down your way.

RecipeGirl said...

Beans w/ balsamic are my favorite. Have you ever tried/seen Dragon Beans? They're white beans w/ swirls of purple in them. Rather interesting!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmyumyumyum! This sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it out! Chichajo, try using Capri balsamic vinegar. It's the most reasonably priced I've found in the supermarket! :)

veron said...

this sounds delicious joey! And glad to know what sitaw in english is.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Roseanne! Glad to be of help! :) I know what you mean...I am continually racking my brain for new ways to prepare the’s something I enjoy thinking about though :) Mustasa is one of my favourites (and Shino’s I have to say is excellent...very spicy!)...this is what we usually use for sinigang and sinampalukan manok because my husband swears that it is the best veggie for sinigang (and I agree!). We also eat it with burong hipon – we wrap the mustasa leaf around a bit of the buro (a Pampanga type preparation) good!!! I will experiment with more uses for it and report back! :) Now, okra...that’s a different story...if you have good okra recipes aside from pinakbet please do share!

Hi Ilva! Thank you! I hope you get to enjoy the snake beans soon :)

Hi Rebekka! They are all over funny the differences in produce around the person’s commonplace is another person’s exotic :)

Hi Betty Q! Asparagus beans! Now how sophisticated is that? :) Tri-colored sitaw sounds lovely...lucky you to have been able to grow them!

Hi Erin! Heehee! Oh boy, I do not mean to giggle at your fear...I do know very well what it’s like to have irrational fears! I’m sure Phil will do a good job at making short work of these for you! :)

Hi Kamana! They are a nice break from my regular preparation :)

Hi Elyse! I love the taste of balsamic...and we use vinegar a lot here, so it’s a nice way to put a bit of a twist on a dish :)

Hi Katie! I’m sure this would work with any green bean :)

Hi Ling! Gosh...I am melting here! What a summer I must say! Time is right/ripe for light meals and chilly citrus drinks :)

Hi My Year Without! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you like the dish!

Hi M! I did a dubious attempt at food styling by using a mister to mist the beans with water before shooting...boy did I feel the Larry Flynt! Haha! Please mail me some cool air!

Hi Recipegirl! Dragon beans sounds lovely...straight out a fairytale type beans! :)

Hi Anonymous! Thanks...I will check that out :)

Hi Veron! Thank you :) I love all its names :)

judyfoodie said...

This is my first time on your blog and I just wanted to say I love your photography. I wish I can take nice pics like that.

I've never had snake beans before. I always pass them by at the Asian market. I'll pick some up next time and try your recipe.

Jude said...

Great idea with balsamic vinegar on sitaw. I had no idea these were called snake beans in English. Makes sense though.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful combo! I love balsamic vinegar in my veggies...



mikky said...

this is a very yummy creation... thanks for sharing... :)

Roseanne said...

Hi Chicajo, the only okra recipe that can wipe out our entire weekly allocation is tempura. I've been struggling with the whole concept of frying as it seems to defeat the purpose of eating healthier :-(

I'll give your hubby's sinampalukang manok a try one of these days :-)


ChichaJo said...

Hi Judyfoodie! Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comment! Hope you get to try snake beans out :)

Hi Jude! Yup...and sometimes they are sold all coiled up like snakes in a charmer’s basket...or maybe that’s just my imagination :)

Hi Rosa! Me too! Balsamic on roasted veggies is delicious as well :)

Hi Mikky! Glad you think so :)

Hi Roseanne! My friend makes an African okra stew that is delicious...I haven’t perfected it so I have no recipe to share, but you can try searching the www for any African okra stew and base it on that. It is basically tomato based with beef and lots of okra and chilli :) I have made a version with chicken that wasn’t half bad either :)

psychosomaticaddictinsane said...

snakebeans pala ang sitaw. haha. dagdag kaalaman! :)

bee said...

that first pic is a winner. it would make a great entry for CLICK spring.

ChichaJo said...

Hi psychosomaticaddictinsane! Yup! :)

Hi Bee! You really think so? Wow, thanks!

cecile said...

thanks for the recipe...tried this as a side dish to boneless daing na bangus (spicy) and the family loved it. i also tried the spicy chicken waldorf salad and it was a hit! i even took a pic to prove that i did it. i used granny smith instead as i am not fond of sweet, red apples. thanks a bunch! keep on posting more always looking out for them for inspiration (read:steal?) hahaha.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Cecile! So happy to hear that your family enjoyed the dishes! Thanks so much for coming over here to let me know :) It really makes my day!

Graciel said...

perhaps a stupid question, but how do you make snake bean adobo? i've only made one adobo in my life... and i really like adobos, so i am quite keen on trying it in other forms than chicken or pork. thanks.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Graciel! Glad to hear you like adobos! I don’t have an exact-measurement recipe for snake bean adobo but this is what I do: I sauté onions and garlic in some oil (sometimes just garlic is fine), then I add the snake beans. When the beans are almost cooked, I splash in some soy sauce and vinegar, and lots of cracked black pepper. I just adjust it to suit my adobo-taste :)

Graciel said...

thanks very much! will give this vegetarian adobo a decent go. great blog.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Graciel! You’re welcome! :)

roseanne said...


I had the chance to try the the Kapampangan buro in Pampanga 2 weekends ago and thought of you :-) First time I've tried it (and I probably wouldn't have ordered it if you haven't mentioned it) I loved it!

The restaurant was kind enough to give me a container and we finished our weekly mustasa ration with it!

Where do you buy it here in Manila?!

Thank you :-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Roseanne! Glad to hear you enjoyed the buro with mustasa! We get ours at Blue Kitchen (their burong hipon)...a bottle never lasts long with us!

Soma said...

This sounds wonderful. never thought of making snake beans such an elegant way!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Soma! Thank you! It is quite simple to throw together but delicious all the same :)

Bee said...

Dear Madam,
I created a blog ( in which I explain to people what snake beans are. I stumbled across your photo and was wondering if I could use it in my blog because it is so great.
Please let me know and if you refuse, I'll understand.
Thank you,

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bee! I have sent you a message on your blog :)