Stir-Fried Winged Beans (Kacang Botol) with Tomato and Garlic – Recipe

Winged Beans with Tomatoes

I ran into a vegetable I'd never seen before at a farm stand in Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawaii, in the middle of a preposterous but amusing adventure that involved driving back and forth over the same stretch of coast approximately seventy-three times. These pods were about 8 inches long, with ruffled leaves, somewhat crunchy like romaine lettuce, but with a central seed pod a bit like a green bean. Most unusual.

Photo courtesy of Terri at HungerHunger

My policy is to always buy an unknown fruit or vegetable, on the assumption that the web will help me figure out what it is and how to use it. The gentleman I bought them from said to eat them raw, but an initial skeptical bite showed that to be a fairly unappealing prospect.

Winged Beans at MarketAsking around on the social media, @kitsune_shoujo from Singapore, and Ananthi Parkin from Malaysia informed me right away that this vegetable is kacang botol, or winged bean, and that they it could be used in a variety of stir-fried dishes, or cooked and chilled for a salad.

Here's my first try at a recipe using them with what I found in our rental house kitchen. I thought it was pretty darn tasty. This is a pretty basic method for a stir-fry flavored with garlic and tomatoes that you could adapt to green beans or okra, for example. In the heat of the very rapid stir-fry, the tomatoes begin to break down and create a bit of sauce, which is enhanced with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Stir-Fried Winged Beans (Kacang Botol) with Tomato and Garlic
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 4 as a side dish 

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • dried red chiles, to taste
  • 1 pound winged beans (kacang botol), cut into bite-sized lengths
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  1. Heat a wok or your largest skillet over maximum heat. Add the oil, and when it is shimering, add the garlic and chilis. Stir-fry for ten seconds, without burning, and immediately add the winged beans and salt.
  2. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the beans brighten in color.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry about 30 more seconds, until the tomatoes just slightly begin to break down and form a sauce. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in the soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve immediately.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan or Modifiable.

17 Responses to “Stir-Fried Winged Beans (Kacang Botol) with Tomato and Garlic – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    These are so cool! I tried to grow winged beans in my garden years ago, but they didn’t work out. I’ve never tasted them but would love to.

  2. Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    hey! i think Xiaolu at 6bittersweets just posted a Kacang photo from her singapore trip recently… there are still so many things i haven’t cooked with from the ordinary grocery store. i’m still in Pre-k…you….have gone to get your masters.

  3. Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    I would love to try them, what an interesting sounding vegetable.

    When you said that the exterior was like romaine it made me wonder how it would be grilled and served with a vinaigrette?

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Grilled like romaine? Sounds good to me!

  5. Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    “my policy is to always buy an unknown fruit or vegetable”–i like tt policy bc tt’s my policy too!

    winged beans (also called 4 angled beans) grow easily in tropical weather. just plant some seeds next to a fence in a sunny area and the plant’ll give so many beans tt you’ll have to give them away. they can be fried plain, with some chopped garlic, oil and salt. they must never be overcooked. your simple plate of winged beans are making me hungry!

  6. Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Very interesting! I’ve never seen beans like this but I’d certainly be game to try them if I ran across some.

  7. Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I’ve never seen or heard of winged beans but they’re so pretty! That’s great that you have a rental kitchen and can buy new produce like this. Whenever I travel I go to markets and have the impulse to cook with local ingredients and then am sad when I don’t have a kitchen.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    So what is a vegetable from the regular grocery that you haven't taken around the track yet?

  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Yeah, I've only had kitchens in vacation rentals a few times, but I always love it. and airbnb are great ways to find places that have kitchens and very cool spaces, often at prices lower than hotels, although of course without the service. One tip: if you do get a rental with a kitchen, bring your own sharp knife and possibly a few other small tools, as the ones you find there may be iffy at best.

  10. Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    As a kid, we used to eat it raw with sambal belanchan. My m-in-law grew these along her garden fence and we often had these eaten raw. When cooked, it is usually with pounded dried shrimps and fresh chillis pounded into a paste, as the basic ingredient. Husband couldn’t resist picking up 2 pkts of 250gms each when he spotted them in the supermarket. However, due to medical reasons, my husband cannot eat raw veg (and dried shrimps is not his favorite), I had to find a recipe and yes, found only yours! Thanks! Tried it but added sliced fresh green chillis and half a teaspoon sambal belachan (can’t resist this!) Husband found it delicious. Next time round, I’ll add more sambal belanchan (for more kick!) and toss in fried crispy tiny silver fish. Mix well and serve immediately.

  11. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    November 11, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I'm glad to hear the recipe met with the approval of a long time afficionado! That really is an interesting vegetable to those of us who didn't grow up with them. Most unusual.

  12. Reply
    July 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    My husband is growing winged beans, now with a nice crop. I do not know how to serve them. Any recipes from a knowledeable cook?

    • Reply
      July 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      The recipe you see here was my one and only opportunity to cook with them so far!

  13. Reply
    March 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    Hi! This is a popular vegetable here in the Philippines. We call it “sigarilyas.” We usually cook it with coconut milk. You simply saute garlic, onion, and tomato then add the sliced winged beans. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Add the coconut milk, do not overcook and it’s ready to serve! 🙂

  14. Reply
    October 1, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

    Bought these yesterday at my local farmers and I’ve followed your recipe …
    Wow !!! what just happened in my plate ?? I really love,love,love this recipe!!! What a great vegetable! they are tender still crisp, sweet and fresh…wow,just wow …

  15. Reply
    June 2, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    When is best season to grow wing beans?

  16. Reply
    August 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    Amazingly I cooked the same dish yesterday along with mushrooms. My office mates loved them. In Sri Lanka we add lot of curry leaves, pandan leave and cinnamon to almost any dish which make your dish aromatic and tasty and of course nutrition. We use Chillie pieces as well. That depends on the way you like it.

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