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Blessings & Taste of the Islands Part 19: Shikaku Mame (Winged Beans)
post : 2021.03.02 07:00
From the months of summer to the end of autumn, the marvelously-shaped Shikaku Mame or winged beans can be found at local markets.
In Okinawa, they’re also called Urizun Mame and have long been part of the local diet.
When I first saw them, I was somewhat surprised and was hesitant in picking them up because they were so new to me.
I didn’t know how to prepare them and so, it took me a while to buy them for the first time.
One day, my husband picked some up on his trip to the market, and I tackled the task of preparing something delicious with them. I was delighted to discover that they were quite easy to prepare, and nowadays, when the beans are in season, they’ve become a regular part of our selection of vegetables.
These beans are about 20cm in length and they have a star-like shape to them when cut, and are very charming in appearance.
They taste like green beans or peas, and since they’re part of the vine family, many people grow them in their gardens and are popular as “green curtains” like the Goya, to add a nice shade by the windows.
When we had a garden, we loved growing them.
They’re also highly nutritious, as they contain vitamins C and K, as well as carotene. They’re also believed to have antioxidant effects so they’re wonderful to add to your dishes.
When picking them at the local markets, I often get asked,
“How do you eat them?”
Perhaps even some of the locals have yet to try them, or maybe they’re looking for new ways to enjoy them.
Since their taste is simple, like peas in a pod, they’re easy to use and arrange in any way you like.
In this article, I’d like to introduce two dishes using the Shikaku Mame from our family’s repertoire.
First, let’s begin with Aemono or a simple dish with dressing which is recommended as a side dish or as an addition to packed into a Bento lunchbox.
[Shikaku Mame with Shredded Umeboshi Plum Dressing]
Our house is a treasure trove of Umeboshi, the tart and delicious pickled plums. We pickle the plums just before the rainy season starts and continue making the Umeboshi under the bright rays of the summer’s sun.
Swiftly boil the winged beans in boiling water, cool with iced water, then thoroughly dry.
Chop the beans, add a shredded Umeboshi plum, soy sauce, and broth, and mix. It’s that simple.
Sprinkle some black sesame seeds and you’re done.
I packed some in my daughter’s Bento box one day, and she came home and happily reported that her homeroom teachers said,
“That’s so good! I’m going to try making it!”
If you get a chance, give it a try.
Now, for our second dish, Shikaku Mame Irichii, which goes great with rice.
In the Okinawan language, Irichii means stir-fry.
Believe it or not, Okinawa has numerous names for stir-fry dishes.
“Champuru,” “Tashiya,” “Umbushi,” “Irichii”, and more.
Each one is slightly different from the others.
The more familiar Champuru comes from the Chinese word, “炒腐児” (chǎo fǔ ér) meaning side dishes. The middle character, “fu” means tofu, and combined, this means stir-fry that contains tofu.
As for Tashiya, you may have heard of Somin Tashiya, a type of stir-fry using the thin Somen noodles. Tashiya are stir-fries using noodles, rice, and other starchy ingredients.
Umbushi on the other hand, are dishes that are stir-fried and then boiled in a liquid sauce. Like Nabera (sponge gourd) Umbushi, dishes using ingredients that contain a lot of moisture are often prepared this way.
Finally, the Irichii, the type of stir-fry I’d like to introduce.
This is a typical stir-fry where the ingredients are cooked together in a pan and seasoned with broth and other blends of seasonings.
For this recipe, I will be using the Garlic Niku (meat) Miso made by Bansho Momotoan, a restaurant in Uruma City, where I live.
Pour some oil in a frying pan and add aroma with chopped garlic and chili peppers.
After a quick boil, put the winged beans in the pan, shake lightly, and add the blend of a teaspoon of Niku Miso and a teaspoon of broth.
Stir until thoroughly seasoned, and it’s ready to be served.
This is a very satisfying dish that only uses one basic ingredient, and has a crunchy and crispy texture, and the appetizing aroma of garlic and the rich flavor of the Niku Miso blends quite nicely.
In other parts of Asia, these winged beans are used in soups, too.
They’re also nice to add to salads in thin slices.
Once you get used to cooking with them, I’m sure you’ll come up with your own great ideas and recipes.
[Shikaku Mame with Shredded Plum Dressing] (For 4 Servings)
-1 Pack of Shikaku Mame (winged beans)
-Pinch of Salt
-1 Tsp of Soy Sauce
-1 Umeboshi (pickled plum)
-Black Sesame Seeds
1. Add some salt to boiling water, and boil the winged beans quickly, and put them in iced water right away.
2. Take out the pit from the Umeboshi plum and chop finely. Mix the chopped Umeboshi and soy sauce.
3. Thoroughly dry the beans and add the mixture from 2. Mix well and to finish, sprinkle black sesame seeds, and serve.
[Shikaku Mame Irichii: Seasoned with Garlic Niku Miso] (For 4 Servings)
-2 Packs of Shikaku Mame (winged beans)
-Pinch of Salt
-1 Clove of Garlic
-Chili Peppers (to your preference)
-1 Tsp of Garlic Niku Miso
-1 Tsp of Broth
1. Boil the winged beans for a short time in boiling water with salt. Place in iced water and once cooled, wipe off the moisture.
2. Pour oil into a frying pan and add chopped garlic and chili peppers.
3. Add the winged beans into the pan, then the blended seasonings (Garlic Niku Miso and broth) in a circular motion to add flavor throughout the beans. Ready to be served.
*You can enjoy the winged beans without using the Garlic Niku Miso, too. Just stir-fry with garlic, chili peppers, and salt. I hope you try this recipe.
Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)