Winged Beans – Tua Poo
by Michael Babcock
Although I don't have too much information available on this interesting vegetable, I wanted to put up a page with photographs so that people curious about it could at least see what it looks like. The name becomes obvious when you look at the picture to the left (click on the picture to see a larger version) – cut into a cross section, you can see the "wings."
In Thailand, I've encountered winged beans mostly in a salad of the yam variety with a hot and sour dressing. Kasma teaches a version of this recipe as Winged Bean Salad with Toasted Coconut, Peanuts and Limy Chilli Dressing (Yam Tua Poo) in Advanced Series Set A (class 2) as well as in Advanced Weeklong Set A (day 1). Kasma also teaches a southern-style winged bean salad, Southern-Style Winged Bean Salad (Yam Tua Poo Bpak Dtai) in Advanced Weeklong B (day 5). In addition, winged beans also are found served raw to be eaten with lahb, the fiery salad from northeastern Thailand (Northeastern-Style Spicy Minced Chicken Salad – Lahb Gkai). In the south of Thailand they show up on the vegetable platters that are served with nearly every meal.
Winged beans are difficult to obtain where we live, in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the warmer summer months (late July, August) there are two ethnic markets in East Bay (one in Oakland, one in Richmond) where we can occasionally find them. In her recipes, Kasma usually substitutes snow peas, 2 to 3 snow peas per winged bean.