A Chinese gastronomic enigma.

Many of you may have noticed that I rarely write about food. Photos of food or meals on Instagram are not my strong suit :) However, it would be wrong to say I’m indifferent to food. Absolutely not! These are my favorite kinds of cuisine:

  1. Chinese cuisine. To be more precise, all types of Chinese cuisine, and above all, South Xianggang cuisine (is that the proper name for it?).
  2. Japanese cuisine. To be more precise, all types of Japanese cuisine with their fresh, fried, grilled, roasted, boiled, etc. food. (Which reminds me of this video about the mysteries of Japanese cuisine.)
  3. All other Asian food.
  4. The entire culinary spectrum of the Caucasus. (The challenge here is to stay within the confines of lunch and dinner rather than succumbing to all-out gluttony…which I don’t think is right.)
  5. Borscht.
  6. That’s probably enough, or we may descend into the aforementioned gluttony :)

So now, I need the help from the audience.

There is a remarkable vegetable that grows in China (or, more correctly, on Hainan island). When cooked, it looks like this:

Its name in Mandarin is 四角豆.

“Four-cornered beans” according to my translation tool. Indeed, this veg has a very distinct four-cornered stalk. When preparing it, they chop the stalk at an angle (which results in rectangles with sharp corners) and pour on some seasoning.

I’ve never seen this vegetarian dish anywhere outside Hainan, and that includes Hong Kong which is just next door. This vegetable only grows in Hainan, and that’s where it all seems to get eaten.

So, two questions.

  1. What’s the proper name for this vegetable in Russian and English?
  2. Just in case I’m wrong, does anyone know if this tasty veg is on sale anywhere outside China? Would be great to know.

Thank you all in advance!

// After all that I have a strong urge to go and have lunch :)

Comments 4 Leave a note

    John Lavendy

    For what i can see, it looks like our “haricots plats”, can be translated by flat beans.
    Not sure it tastes the same …


    A Chinese wiki, Baidu, says that its scientific name is “Psophocarpus tetragonolobus D.C”, which Wikipedia informs me is also called the “Goa bean, four-angled bean, four-cornered bean, Manila bean, [or] Dragon bean”.
    I hope that helps with your search!


    Hi, I Think that looks like green beans

    Thank you!

    Alex Loginov

    Hello Eugene,

    There are few alternative names to this veg, but the closest equivalent of what Chinese call it would be the “asparagus pea”. It is not, however, exclusive to Hainan as it grows abundantly in the hot and humid environments of South Asia and Oceania… and, indeed, it is very tasty. I too, apart from my information security profession, like the Chinese cuisine, especially the Fujian and the Sichuan varieties. I truly believe trying the Sichuan Hot Pot is a must if you ever visit Chengdu or the province in general. As to the Russian equivalent, I don’t think it exists, maybe some of the alternative names would/can make sense in Russian, but, again, I never heard of them. As a side note… it looks like, apparently, the veg can be grown in Europe, at least the seeds are available from some suppliers in NL.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

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