I have to confess that, until today, I had never eaten sigarillas. I don’t exactly know why. I don’t remember sigarillas being served at home when I was a child. As an adult, I don’t really know why I never tried it. I am adventurous with food, I have tried a lot of things that I never had as a child but, for some reason, my food adventures never included sigarillas. Not that I ever heard anyone express any traumatic experience with it (as with so many swearing off ampalaya); neither does sigarillas have a reputation for being nutritionally wanting. I have seen bunches of sigarillas in the market and the grocery but never picked up one.
Then, one day, Speedy came home talking about a ginataang sigarillas dish he ate somewhere. Knowing how picky Speedy is with food (despite his magnanimous claims, it isn’t true that he can eat anything because he won’t touch badly cooked food), I decided that sigarillas must have its virtues and I felt bold enough to pick up a bag of sigarillas on our next trip to the grocery.
With so many English names it goes by, I’m not anymore sure if sigarillas is a bean or a pea but it is a legume, definitely. If you’re into names, here is a screenshot from Wikipedia enumerating the names that sigarillas is known by in Asia.
Sigarillas is Spanish-sounding and I’m wondering if the name has to do with the elongated shape of the pod so that it is likened to a cigar — a really huge cigar.
There’s the cross-cut.
According to Leafforlife.org, the scientific name is Psophocarpus tetragonolobus.
The winged bean is a strong growing, twining perennial legume with large beautiful pale blue flowers. The plant is thought to have originated along the east coast of Africa, although the center of diversity has now shifted to the islands of the South Pacific, and especially to Papua New Guinea. Used for leafy green potherbs, fresh pods, dried beans, edible tubers, animal fodder and forage, green manure, and cover crops; winged beans are the ultimate multi-purpose crop. They are a climbing plant well suited to incorporation into agroforestery or multi-story farming systems. Though it has many advantages, winged beans are currently a food crop of commercial value only in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
For those who live in cold countries, you may have to import sigarillas to enjoy it because it only grows well in hot and humid countries with lots of rainfall.
And just how does sigarillas taste? The flavor is subtle, it is not fibrous (like mature green beans) and, if not overcooked, retains a light pleasant crunch. The recipe for ginataang sigarillas (winged beans in coconut milk) coming up next.