Monday, February 02, 2009


[Goa Bean/Winged Bean]

Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, also known as asparagus pea, four angled bean, manila bean, but commonly known in the general Tagalog region as sigarillas/sigarilyas/sigadillas.

(If it is called something else in your area please let me know via the comments section or email, so we could compile the local names, listed below)

In the Pangasinan language we call it cabuey (KA-BEY, with a guttural e, as in perm) or gabuey. My dad once told me the plant is a weed - it grows just about anywhere, on its own, and without any care - and is valued as a weed. But we eat the fruit (the elongated, square-angled pod), cooked as a vegetable.

What little literature about this vegetable indicates that it is a perennial, but I see the fruits only seasonally, like about half the year, starting from the end of the rainy season. And the whole plant can be eaten, including the flowers and roots.

The pod comes in two colors - waxy green, and red violet - and in two sizes - really long ones, about a foot, and the really short ones, three inches or thereabouts. It contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and other trace vitamins.

Unlike any other pod that I know, the cabuey is four-cornered, but thankfully there are only two "strings" that need to be pulled out from its "seams" before cooking. Frills, or linear "wings," run along all four corners, thus the name.

Cabuey has to be harvested young, or else it becomes rubbery and inedible. And it has to be cooked on the same day it was harvested, to get its premium taste (likened to asparagus). I've seen it sliced thinly and stewed in gata (coconut milk), a common dish in Kapampangan restaurants, called gising-gising.

In Pangasinan it is boiled with bagoong isda (salted fermented fish in paste) and a thumb of ginger, along with other vegetables, like squash and string beans, perhaps, or maybe sliced green papaya. A common Ilocano mix is patani, bataw, and sigarillas.

Here I sauteed sliced (more like torn) cabuey pods with previously boiled cubes of gabi (taro tuber), seasoned with bagoong. A simple but classic pairing.

Ginisang Sigarillas at Gabi

a thumb of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
garlic, peeled and crushed
one small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
a tablespoon or two of bagoong water, strained
2-3 bunches sigarillas, de-stringed and quartered
100 grams (about 4 small pieces ) gabi, peeled, halved and boiled

  1. Heat a teaspoonful of cooking oil. When smoke is rising put in ginger, frying for about a minute.
  2. Put in garlic and stir around until golden.
  3. Mix in the onion, and cook until translucent.
  4. Pour bagoong water, stirring around until it starts to bubble.
  5. Mix in gabi and sigarillas, then pour a swig of water. Let boil for about two minutes, covered.
  6. Adjust the flavor by adding more water if too salty, or adding more bagoong if bland. Serve immediately.
Yields one serving. String beans can also be added, even kamansi, and okra.

Names in other areas in the Philippines
  • cabuey / gabuey / parlang [Central Pangasinan, or where the Pangasinan language is spoken]
  • padlang [Pangasinan, in outlying areas where Ilocano is spoken]
  • pallang [Isabela]
  • kalamismis [Batangas]
  • pagulong (Bicol - Camarines Norte)
  • balagay (Hiligaynon)

Equivalent terms in other Asian languages:
  • dambala [Sinhala]
  • kacang botol [Malay]
  • kecipir [Indonesian]
  • jaat [Sundanese]
  • sirahu avarai [Tamil]
  • tua phoo [Thai]
  • đau rong [Vietnamese]

Bahay Kubo
(A Filipino folk song)

Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari
Singkamas at talong, sigarillas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani

Gundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka meron pa, labanos, mustasa
Sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya
Sa paligid-ligid ay puno ng linga


Anonymous said...

from where Igrew up, we call this pallang.

Anonymous said...

we call it kalamismis in my hometown in batangas and also cooked bulanglang or steamed and dipped in bagoong balayan

Kai said...

Thanks for the added info! Where in the Philippines is this called pallang, please?

Anonymous said...

Amazing coincidence! I was just describing what we call in daet as pagulong and you have just blogged about it. Ang sarap nya sa bulanglang! I am so into native vegetables right now. I'll look for kamansi next time. Ang tawag naman sa amin ay ugob. For pagulong, if freshly picked, isinasapaw lang namin sa sinaing then sawsawan of calamansi and patis. Or cooked in coconut milk, ang pang alat ay dinailan. With dried shrimps and shredded tinapa. The smell of dinailan wafts in every daet household every lunchtime. I'll bring you some the next time i'm in daet.

Anonymous said...

I remember singing that song when I was little during the war. I only remember the first verse, even the melody. My that brings some memories. Mrs. L asked me if I ever ate this but I am not sure. I probably did but just don't remember. Although I remember eating kankong (spelling)? Oh well, the older the get the worst my memories get but that song just popped up for me. Roz

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Say antak tawag ed Lingayen aray arum say tawag da parlang, cabuey, padlang (ilocano speaking area). Nen ugaw ak ni say antak masamit itan no iluto nen baik kaibay
o-ong ya inala ed kapontian tan puso na ponti (balayang or butuan) tan walay sambong to ya inkalot ya gele-gele o gurami....

Kai said...

Looking forward to trying dinailan!

It's kangkong, Tita Roz, it's been a long time you've been here, and it's amazing you still remember. I'd like to try covering all the veggies enumerated in that folk song since they seem to be inundating the markets these days.

Mang Bert, ohmygosh, gele-gele or gourami is hard to find these days. I love cabuey with papayas and mushrooms. Thanks for the dish you wrote about, I haven't tried that, I'll make some this weekend. I'd have to use cultured oyster mushrooms, though, that is, if I could some in the groceries, since the thunderstorm season is months away, which makes the possibility of finding wild mushrooms around banana stalks nil.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ren, Eugene here!

In Hiligaynon, we call this vegetable Balagay. Dito sa amin sa Bacolod I like this sautéed with beef strips and mushrooms. Sarap!!!

MhzQuiros said...

I think this is what they call sigarilyas in Manila.