I had a burning craving for asim [ah-sim], for sourness. This is how I am when I am distracted and a million thoughts race through my head. I long for the familiar, for the comforting taste of asim.

After all, I am Filipino. It is in my nature to crave something maasim, to have a taste for something sour. I know, the Filipino word asim doesn’t translate well. Most people associate sourness with something spoiled, like sour milk, or something unripe, like a sour fruit picked too early, unready and unwanted. But for Filipinos, sourness is desired. It is celebrated. It is everywhere. Pork cooked in vinegar. Chicken simmered in tamarind. Fish soured in guava. In a sawsawan or a salad matched with something salty and fried.

I lifted the lid and instantly the smell of vinegar filled the kitchen. The heat and the acid had transformed the bright green sitaw, cut like matchsticks, into something darker. Green like olives. With a spoon I had a taste. The beans were tender but still crisp. Its sweetness blending beautifully with the vinegar and fish sauce. It was exactly what I wanted. The asim that I had craved.


Adobong Sitaw Recipe

1 bunch sitaw (Chinese long beans or yard long beans), about 3/4 pound
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Snip off the ends of the long beans and cut them into the length of matchsticks. This is easiest to do with a pair of kitchen shears.

Heat the oil in a kawali or pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until almost brown. Add the long beans and stir fry until it starts to blister, about a few minutes. Add the vinegar and fish sauce then cover with a lid. Turn the heat down to low and cook until tender and the color has turned dark green. Serve immediately.


Adobong Sitaw