Winged bean ‘Thua Phu’ in Thai, is a legume that has originated from the tropical areas of southeast Asia, possibly from Papua New Guinea. The entire plant is edible including the leaves, the pods, the seeds and the tubers.
The ‘beans’ are the part of the plant commonly eaten in Thailand, which are really the pods containing the seeds. They have a beautiful bright green color, can reach about 8 inch or 20cm in length and have a distinct rectangle shaped cross section with thin ragged wing-like extensions running lengthwise on the four edges of the rectangle pod, granting this bean its name.
The crisp pods have subtle bitterness flavor reminiscent of asparagus which is why it is also known as the asparagus bean. The pods are best when they are young and less fibrous. The are eaten raw as a side vegetable, they are the main ingredient in winged bean salad ‘Yum Thua Phu’ and can be used in stir-fries as well as in soups and curries.