Hyacinth Bean


Posted by admin | Posted in Hyacinth Bean | Posted on 03-09-2010

Hyacinth Beans for a long time were just stunning plants for me. Little did I know that they were so much more.

Lablab purpureus are of the Leguminosae family. They are known as Lablab Bean, Mouse-Ear Vine, Egyptian Kidney Bean; Bian Dou; Kachang Sepat, henzu (Japanese), p’yontu (Korean), Kachang Kara; Motchai, bonavist, Chinese flowering bean, Pharao bean, shink bean, val bean, wild field bean, and Indian bean.

Description: They are an annual legume reaching a height of 6′ – 8′. with a raceme growing from leaf axil, and a white or purple flower; there is a flat, red or purple light-green legume, and small, flat elliptical seed. It is an outstanding and beautiful vine. Seeds, young leaves, and flowers are edible. Blooms mid summer to fall. Usually it is sowed in spring and harvested in autumn. Can be a tender perennial in zones 9-11 The green or purple pods are small, 2-3 inches long, flat, smooth, and slightly sickle shaped. Pods resemble a lima bean pod with corrugation on the edge. Each pod contains 4-6 seeds that may be red, brown, or white. A distinctive mark is the long white seed scar. The 4 to 6 inch long sweet scented flowers vary in color, being white, pink, or purple.

Cultivation: Spacing is 12 in, for thick growth suggest 6-10 seeds per foot. Planting Depth: 1″ . Propagate by seed. Can be grown inside with warm greenhouse conditions. Given enough warmth and light, it will flower continuously. Hyacinth bean grows well in full sun in any well-drained soil, but in Zones 3 and 4 it needs a sheltered location. Since it is hard to transplant successfully, plant it in its permanent location. When night temperatures will stay above 50°, sow the seeds, spacing them about 1 foot apart. If no trellis is available, provide string or wire supports for the tendrils to grasp. Hyacinth bean is relatively free of pests. For earlier flowering in Zones 3-5, start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost is due. Sow seeds in individual 3-inch peat pots. Once the danger of frost is past, set the seedlings, pots and all, directly into the ground. Additional vines can also be propagated from stem cuttings rooted in moist sand.

History: “Lablab” is an Arabic or Egyptian name describing the dull rattle of the seeds inside the dry pod. The species is cultivated in India, China and tropical Africa. It is wild in India and also in Java, becoming naturalized in cultivation. From India, it was introduced to China, Western Asia and Egypt during ancient times. One of Jefferson’s favorite vines at Monticello. The hyacinth bean is also called “Fuji mame”. It is considered to have been introduced into Japan from China in 1654 by the Chinese famous Zen monk “Ingen” . Hence, this legume is sometimes called “Ingen” in Hence, this legume is sometimes called “Ingen” in Kansai district (the Central western parts of Japan).

Medicinal Uses:
TCM: Hyacinth bean is mild-and-lightly-warm-natured, tastes sweet. It can tonify the spleen and stomach, relieve internal heat fever, relieve summer beat-and damp and remove dampness to stop diarrhea, etc., leukorrhea, with reddish discharge, infantile malnutrition and anti-cancer, etc. The seeds are used to stimulate gastric activities, for vomiting and diarrhea in acute gastro-enteritis, thirst in heat-stroke, rheumatic arthritis, sunstroke, as an antidote against fish and vegetable poisoning and to treat colic and cholera. The flowers are used to treat dysentery when there is pus and bloody stools, inflammation of the uterus and to increase menstrual flow. Contraindicated in cases of intermittent fevers and chills, and in cold disorders. Dosage: 9-21 g. Use dry-fried for strengthening the spleen, untreated for clearing summerheat. Preparations of bian dou inhibited the effect of trypsin and amylase.

Other Uses: The distinctive long-lasting pods are suitable for cut stems for the cut flower industry. In addition, the pods are so unique that they could be used for decoration or harvested for Chinese food wholesalers. Preliminary studies in 1992, demonstrated high yields, simple production practices and relatively long vase-life for cut pod stems. Some local and regional florists enjoyed the special color and texture that hyacinth beans offered their arrangements while others had little interest in use of these stems. With yields as high as 70 cut stems per lineal meter of fence, the potential returns could be quite high [7 bunches/m x $2.50/bunch (a common minimum wholesale price) = $17.50/m] for short term harvest and marketing of this summer/fall crop. However, there is no established market for hyacinth bean cut stems and guarantees of profitability cannot be made.

Culinary Uses: Hyacinth bean is cooked with meat, chicken or cook shredded Hyacinth bean with xiang mushroom, mushroom edible fungus, hedgehog fungus, as dish. which is full of pleasant smell. Hyacinth bean must be cooked thoroughly when eaten, for it contains substances that can cause blood coagulation and hemolytic saponin, otherwise ,it could cause some symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting and nausea, etc. The immature pods are boiled and eaten as a vegetable. It is a favorite with Malays and Indians, being considered the best kind of bean pods eaten with curry. Ripe seeds are eaten in India and China as a split pulse. Pulses are legumes which produce seeds that are harvested when dry, then cooked for human food. They are high in protein and can substitute for meat in the diet. Oil content ranges from almost none to high. They also provide good quantities of B vitamins. Carbohydrate contents vary, but often include long chain carbohydrates that are difficult to digest and lead to flatulence (gas). Most grain legumes contain antinutrients or poisonous substances and need to be thoroughly cooked before eating. Under proper conditions they can be stored for many years. Lablab beans cannot be eaten raw because they contain a poisonous glycoside that is destroyed upon boiling. The flowers are edible as well and can be used in the same way as scarlet runner beans. The plant also has an edible starchy tuber. Can be substituted for cowpeas or split peas in cooking .

In East Indian cooking hyacinth beans are called val. Dried val beans are creamy-white to light tan in color, flat and long. They have a thick, white ridge on one side. On cooking, val acquires a strong, nutty aroma and the taste becomes creamy with a slight, but not unpleasant bitterness. Val need overnight soaking as it is very hard. It is usually sprouted to enhance its flavor. Just soak it in water then drain and hang up in a clean moist cloth overnight to promote sprouting. The beans need to be peeled to remove the thick, chewy skin. Then they are ready to be cooked. Val goes well with coconut, jaggery and ginger. You can add the sprouted beans to soups and salads.

Hyacinth bean with sesame paste (sengoku mame)

hyacinth bean
a pinch of salt
sesame paste (with soy sauce)
String the hyacinth bean and wash. Boil hyacinth bean for 3 or 5 minutes (till toothpick is easy to stick) with a pinch of salt. Drain off. Mix hyacinth bean and sesame paste.

Summer Cabbage
6 g each lablab beans, porias
3 g each Solomon’s seal, Chinese yam

1 lb nappa cabbage
3 ½ oz shelled shrimp
½ Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp cornstarch
Rinse the first 4 ingredients and drain. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the soup reduces to 1 cup. Sieve the soup and discard the dregs. Wash the nappa cabbages and cut into 2” x 1 ½” wide pieces. Remove the veins from the shrimp, wash, drain and marinate with the cornstarch and rice wine. Heat a wok, add 2 tbsp oil and heat to hot. Stir-fry the shrimp until cooked; remove immediately. Add another 1 tbsp oil to the wok and heat, stir-fry the nappa cabbage, add herb soup, shrimp, and the sugar and salt. Cook until the nappa cabbage is tender. Thicken with the water and cornstarch. Reduces inner heat, relieving thirst and increasing saliva. Helpful from the affects of osteoporosis and calcium depletion. (Chinese Herb Cooking for Health)

Valache Birde
(Val and Coconut Stir-Fry)

3 Tbsp corn oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
large pinch asafetida
10 curry leaves
4 green chilies, slit lengthwise, exposing the seeds, but so the chili is not broken in two
2½ cups val, soaked overnight, sprouted for 8 hours and skinned (10 oz)
4 Tbsp jaggery, grated

2 cups coconut, grated if fresh or flaked
6 kokum
2 Tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop add half the cumin seeds. Add the asafetida, curry leaves and chilis and sauté for a minute. Add the val, a little water, jaggery, kokum and salt and cook over low heat until the val is soft but not mushy. Grind the coconut and the remaining cumin seeds to a fine paste in a blender. Stir this paste into the curry and simmer for a minute. Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves. (The Indian Spice Kitchen)

Vangi ani Val
(Eggplant and Val with Coconut)

2 drumsticks, (optional) cut into 1 inch pieces
3 TRbsp corn oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
large pinch of asafetida
1 large onion, chopped finely

1 ¼ cups val, soaked overnight, sprouted for 8 hours and skinned
1 small eggplant, cubed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp goda masala powder
4 Tbsp coconut, grated if fresh, or flaked
Boil the drumstick until it can be easily opened. Drain and reserve. Heat the oil and sauté the mustard seeds with the asafetida. When the seeds pop add the onion and sauté till golden. Add the val, eggplant, powder spices and salt. Mix well. Then add a little water and cook until the beans are soft but not mushy. Cook on a high heat to evaporate all the water. Remove from the heat and add the coconut and drumsticks. Stir gently and serve hot. (The Indian Spice Kitchen)

Chinese Herb Cooking for Health, Wang-Chuan Chen, Chin-Chin Publishing Co., 1997; ISBN: 0-941676-70-6
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica,Dan Bensky & Andrew Gamble, Eastland Press, 1993; ISBN: 0-939616-15-7
An Illustrated Dictionary of Chinese Medicinal Herbs, Wee Yeow Chin & Hsuan Keng, CRCS Press, 1992; ISBN: 0-916360-53-9
The Indian Spice Kitchen, Monisha Bharadwaj, Dutton; 1997; ISBN: 0-525-94343-9

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