Tuesday, December 18, 2007

deliver me from mung beans

mungo!, originally uploaded by organic baker.

i must admit i have a love-hate relationship with mung beans.

mung beans - 'munggo' in filipino epitomizes a more than typical filipino dish. it is centered on a very humble ingredient - the mung bean. the technique, very simple (boil and saute) but after that, it's all about what you want to do and add to it.

growing up as a child, i couldn't care less about munggo. it's not my favorite thing in the world, but as constant as the sun shining in the morning, as sure as tito, vic and joey will be there on my tv screen for lunch, the munggo will be at my mama nena's lazy susan on a friday.
munggo and some kind of fish cooked in whatever way mama wants it to be. it was a routine so constant it was munggo in your face.

my 'tita' alice is smart. she was in charge of going to the market daily and on a friday, has the special duty of cooking the munggo. since i had been my mama's kitchen prep girl since the age of 5, my tita alice would make me inspect the mung beans, making sure there were no pebbles or whatnot with it. she'll start with a canful* (a clean, empty can of evaporated milk) of dry mung beans and boil it for about 30 minutes. i must give it to the mung beans. they are the gremlins of the vegetable world. they swell like crazy. they multiply to the nth degree.

after 30 minutes, she'd call me to set aside a bowlful of munggo for us to share. that's usually our secret. at that point, i sooo love munggo! she'd let it cool for a while and would at some point add milk and sugar to the bowl, hide it in the freezer and we'll have it as ice cream for snack! it's the same principle as a red bean ice cream, only that ours is green. hey, it works!

back to the simmering pot. at that point, the thought of my munggo ice cream sitting in the freezer has corrupted my brain so much that i actually would volunteer to chop the onions and tomatoes and smash the garlic. not that tita alice was just sitting around reading the newspaper,she was actually pounding the shrimp's head with a pestle, the juice of which was then added to the simmering pot. talk about flavor! the shrimp's body is added to the garlic, onion and tomatoes on a saute pan. everything then is thrown back to the pot of munggo and bittermelon is added with 'moringa' (malunggay in tagalog)' leaves.

to my mind, my mama's lazy susan is a roulette. the only way i can turn it is to actually get something. so there, fine, i have to give in to the munggo. at this point i try my best to scatter and press it unto my plate, hoping that the munggo will blend in with the plate's design.

(some 25 years later, i actually like the sauteed mung beans and look forward to it every now and then. nope, i dont squeeze shrimp heads, and i use chopped spinach to the pot. nope, i dont make munggo ice cream nor have i had it in a long time. maybe when i see my tita alice again. maybe we'll share a bowl like we used to.)

1 comment:

atebibi said...

here in pinas we call it mongo.remember the days when you hate eating ginisang mongo?did it sink into your mind how i pressured you and kuya to eat this meal.now your cooking and eating mongo wholeheartedly and with pleasure.happy to hear that webster likes mongo too.