Junior Extension Agent Jensen Uyeda (Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences) hosted a cowpea field day at the Poamoho Research Station in October, giving about 15–20 participants food for thought and for the ‘opu.
The legumes have low water requirements and are nitrogen fixing, so they can be used as a cover crops or as part of crop rotations, and they may have commercial potential.
While Hawai‘i cannot compete on the commodity scale, Uyeda is examining the potential of cowpeas for the local niche market, including high-end restaurants.
Cowpeas come in various flavors and colors besides the commonly known black-eyed peas. They can be eaten green, like edamame, or in the pod like green beans. To show how good they can be, guest chef Lauren Tamamoto from the Kapi‘olani Community College Culinary Innovation Center prepared cowpea salsa, salad, and other dishes for the participants. In her Asian Cowpea Rice, green cowpeas are combined with white rice, nametake, and furikake for a locally inflected taste sensation.