If there was ever a bean that I could associate with Asia, it would have to be the Snake Bean. It reminds of walking through markets in Malaysia where bundles of these incredibly long beans, each secured by a rubber band, are piled up onto market stall stands. These beans are thought to have originated from South China and are also known as Yard Long beans, Chinese Long Beans or Asparagus Beans.
My parents grow these delightfully long beans in their backyard in Sydney, Australia and mid February we had our first harvest, which I turned into a tasty dish of "Deep fried snake beans with garlic".
After the rather short-lived flowers disappear, little pods start to emerge.
Most of the beans seem to "pair off" which is quite an interesting sight to see!
As with most beans, picking should be done often (2 -3 times a week). The stems can be quite tough, meaning that the beans can be quite difficult to pick, so you may want to use a sharp knife.
All pods should be picked before they fully mature to prevent the plant from becoming exhausted.
See the recipe for "Chinese style Fried Snake Beans with Garlic" here.
Also check out Gourmet Traveller's "Pork Neck & Snake Bean Curry" here.
If you feel inspired to do some gardening and grow your own vegetables, then here is more information:
Evergreen Seeds (Australia)
Green Harvest (Australia)
Mirana White Snake Bean (Australia) from Asian Grocery Store here
Nicky's Nursery (UK) Yard Long Beans
Carreglefn Nurseries (UK) Yard Long Beans
Kitazawa Seed Company (U.S) Yard Long Beans
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (U.S) Taiwan Long Beans
Wikipedia : Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis
AVDRC (The World Vegetable Center) : Yard Long Beans
Northern Territory Government : Snake Bean