13 Jan2009


On our way back to Cebu City from Boljoon, we rounded a bend in the road and stopped at a small sari-sari store that also sold clay pots and tiles (more on that later). But when I walked over, I noticed the proprietress of the shop herself was “shucking” freshly gather pods of mung beans or munggo or monggo and I asked her about them. It seems they are grown just a few steps behind their home/store, and as I thought, grow almost as prolifically as weeds. The bean pods are allowed to mature on the plant and dry as the plant itself dies then they are collected by hand, crushed up to separate the shell from the bean and winnowed to separate the beans out further… Seems so basic, and yet, I wonder, how many of marketmanila’s readers have seen munggo THIS FRESH and close to the source. I was intrigued to say the least.


Mung beans, not surprisingly, are native to India, and unlike lentils and other beans from India, do not seem to be as popular in the West. Mung beans feature often in Chinese and some other Asian cooking, but it has always been thought of as sort of a poor man’s food. I wonder about this as I have always loved mung beans and ginisang munggo is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time. Mung beans come in a green or more golden variety. And are related, I think, to tapilan, a native or more indigenous bean of the Philippines, according to Gil Carandang.


Mung beans grow very easily, but I suspect it is the gathering of the beans that is more of a pain in the rear… In China, mung beans are used primarily to make bean sprouts that are used in all sorts of dishes. Remember all those grade school experiments growing mung beans? And the paste or flour from mung beans are used to make bean thread noodles or sotanghon. They also go as fillers in sweet desserts. But here in the Philippines, I think I have only ever come across this ingredient used in a stew or soup of sorts…


This cheerful lady showed me how to winnow the husks away and leave only the olive green beans behind. It looks simple, but when you try it yourself, it is obvious that it is a learned skill. One of the guys with me, who hails from the Western side of the island and claimed to be an expert rice winnower, had beans flying in all directions! :) At PHP30 a kilo, after all this gathering and hand work, I thought the munggo were a great deal, so I purchased several kilos to take home with me. I have never had it this fresh. A day out of the pods.


And it is here when i realized so many of our foods, fancy or not, have a story. They are farmed by folks with stories of their own. Harvested by hand and prepped to pounding music playing on the radio. Sold for a decent profit and as it goes down the “chain” slowly gets removed from these individual stories. I would go on to make a stunningly good ginisang munggo from this purchase and I am happy that I got the beans from the source itself. I encourage you all to buy at the source when you are home in the province visiting or travelling through the countryside… it is such a satisfying exchange indeed.


Source material: The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson.



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Your story tells it all. We are ingenious and resourceful. We prepped the monggo beans from a bilao after smashing the shell and winnowing them. You’re absolutely right so little money for laborious task. It involved a lot of underarm movement. Whereas in the West they have to mechanically processed them and voila the job is done in seconds. I roasted some cacao beans last month I find it easy and fast moving after smashing them used a hair blow dryer to blow off the skin and cacao beans stayed in place. Of course the skin was all over the floor just vacuum the floor afterwards.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 1:45 pm


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  3. chris says:

    hi mr.mm! guisadong monggo is one of my favorite comfort foods. i like it best with tinapa and dahon ng ampalaya. i came across several versions, those with guisadong baboy and malunggay, with tomatoes and without. here in laguna where we relocated, they have sotanghon in munggo or balatong (as they call it here and in batangas) and in just about any vegetable dish. i remember as a kid, we have sweetened munggo for merienda, and munggo guisado for supper. the munggo was boiled and softened in plain water without any seasoning, then we divide the content into two, one for merienda and one for “ulam”. for the sweetened munggo, we either add condensada or evap with sugar, or add munggo to our powdered milk drink. we put the munggo mix in the freezer, when it hardened, it was like having iced (buko) munggo in a cup. thanks for helping bring back those memories when life was simpler then…

    Jan 13, 2009 | 1:50 pm

  4. diday says:

    Ginisang munggos and munggo ice candy. Three years ago when visiting my in-laws in Manila, I bought 1000 pcs of ice candy plastic bags and the first ice candy flavour I did was the sweet munggo ice candy.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 2:14 pm

  5. Lei says:

    i learned something new today. winnow pala is the term my mother refers in tagalog as mag “tahip”.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 2:26 pm

  6. Edwin D. says:

    Munggo on a rainy day sounds like true comfort food, no?

    Jan 13, 2009 | 2:55 pm

  7. penoybalut says:

    Oh.. gee, I was just thinking whether I will make ginisang munggo with hipon or taba at saka gulay or to put suatanghon (as what my mom called it in Batangas) a real tough choice.

    When I was a kid, we use to make tawge (sp) mungo sprouts, different from the Chinese variety, as it is only done overnight the result is a crunchy kind. It is then sauteed in tomatoes and paired with fried fish..

    What memories of organic food your posts cull from the not so distant past Mr. MM. I really appreciate your site, I just love it, the topics are always a surprise.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:14 pm

  8. MEK says:

    Do you know what the difference is between the kinds of monggo beans sold at the supermarket? I think there were polished (?)/shinier ones… and if I remember correctly, those were cheaper than the ones that weren’t too shiny…

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:31 pm

  9. AleXena says:

    I love monggo beans!!!

    Ginisang monggo is a favorite dish of mine with dahon ng malungay and lots of tinapa in it. Best with proven (fried chicken gizards), crispy fried tilapia or galunggong and crispy pork liempo.=) We use the monggo beans above and the black and yelow variety for Guinataan monggo. Warms the body inside and out.=)

    I very much agree with what you wrote about food having a story in itself.=) Buying produce at its original source makes it more filling to eat in many ways. I just hope rural areas stay rural and do not succumbed to urbanization. Sadly my town is slowly becoming suburban.=(

    Learned a new word too! Winnow or tahip in tagalog. Wow this blog is truly informative.=)

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:44 pm

  10. pixeldose says:

    Is this the same bean that goes into the Munggo hopia filling? ‘Love them hopia, btw. I just didn’t know that they use lard to make the hopia crust flaky. So got to cut down a bit on my hopia consumption :).

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:53 pm

  11. Quillene says:

    In my grandmother’s kitchen, the partner of ginisang munggo is adobo.

    I wonder if anyone still practices the monggo-friday ritual?

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:58 pm

  12. AleXena says:

    @ quillene: Ginisang Monggo and Adobo, a killer and classic combination.=)

    Now that you mentioned it… I remember growing up eating ginisang monggo every friday or at least we expect the dish every friday. Things changed when me and my brother grew-up as we can ask the househelp to cook it any day we like.=)

    What’s the story about the monggo-friday ritual???=)

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:07 pm

  13. ava says:

    hi Quillene, we still practice the munggo-friday ritual almost every week, different versions though,with tinapa or pork or shrimp,with ampalaya leaves or bunga, with malunggay or alugbati or talong (can you believe it!), with bagoong, with chicharon, with sotanghon, with tokwa. dami noh? we usually pair it with fried fish :-)

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:19 pm

  14. Rico says:

    Big “Ahh” moment for me. I never knew that munngo beans are gathered that way, with the husks and winnowing I mean. Very interesting!

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:26 pm

  15. Ley says:

    I remember when I was a kid and we lived in a very remote and mountainous sitio known as Tongonan, Barangay Kanangga, Leyte, because my father worked with PNOC. Bayahinan was a very common practice then where dozens of men would volunteer to carry a house for relocation. The bayanihan would usually occur early morning and the men didn’t receive any compensation for their back-breaking effort. Instead, all volunteers feasted on monggo for lunch. I miss the simplicity of life then…

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:36 pm

  16. Mimi says:

    i love ginisang monggo (with tinapa and dahon ng sili) with chicharon on top. in college, we had a subject which required us to plant mung bean in different soil situations. we had a pitiful harvest, but it made me love cooked ginisang monggo even more.

    pixeldose: same mung bean, but the hopia mongo filling has been skinned, called split mung bean, hence the yellow colour. the split mung bean is soaked in water for at least 2 hours, drained, then steamed for about 45 minutes. While hot, I usually add icing sugar and peanut oil, then I pass through a flat sieve to make it smooth. you can use the same filling for both hopia and buchi.

    there is a chinese porridge called tau suan using the split mung bean too.

    mung bean comes in red – the more common one used for japanese desserts and for halo-halo’s minatamis na monggo and ginataang monggo, green (giniasang monggo) and yellow too, i believe.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:44 pm

  17. Ronee says:

    My childhood memories of munggo in the province – using them as “bala sa sumpit”. We use hard platic softdrink straws, put a munggo inside and aim at your playmates. I miss those days, simple life, simple pleasures.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 4:44 pm

  18. Rose5 says:

    i used to sell siopao with sweetened munggo as palaman and yema during my hi-school days in negros.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 5:10 pm

  19. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Mmmmmm…ginisang munggo with ampalaya leaves and paksiw na isda. So good! We eat this pairing on abstinence fridays. Maybe that is why its called friday munggo. It’s also a very cost effective viand. Inexpensive yet nutritious although not good for elderly people because of uric acid….

    Jan 13, 2009 | 5:31 pm

  20. Angela says:

    MM, you take the most beautiful pictures :)

    Jan 13, 2009 | 5:56 pm

  21. Mila says:

    Your photo of the mung beans being tossed is really good! Plus she’s smiling so that adds to the texture of the photo.
    I’ve never thought about the origins of the mung bean, they were always there, a jar of beans, of those ingredients you always have in the kitchen, or used for science experiments (I killed many a munggo in those projects, sticking them in dark cupboards, forgetting all about them and finding moldy remnants weeks later to the horror of my mother or the maid). Quite a eureka moment in this post as we do have to consider how the simplest item has a story, it lessens our wasting them in the long run.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 6:09 pm

  22. pecorino1 says:

    Here in Thailand I can readily buy shelled munggo beans, meaning the green husk has already been removed. This makes for faster cooking, purer munggo taste, and much better food color — yellow, instead of olive drab. A few minutes of boiling results in a smooth yellow mash. You’d think one used a stick blender to puree the glop. I have not tried these shelled munggo beans to make ginisang munggo though. I should try it one day. My household help from Myanmar uses it in a lot of her terrific Myanmar dishes.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 7:01 pm

  23. mikel says:

    as kids we used to eat boiled mongo a la mais con hielo. preferred that over the ginisa soup.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 8:02 pm

  24. marz says:

    Since the yesterday, I was wanting to cook ginisang munggo for dinner. Plan to mix in my leftover lechon kawali (chopped to smaller pieces) with some spinach leaves. This post is all I need to finally start my ginisang munggo :) NIce post MM!

    Jan 13, 2009 | 8:22 pm

  25. anna.banana says:

    Wow! This is my favorite ulam! It brings back so many memories of my summers spent in Ilocos. I remember watching my Nanay gathering the dried mungbeans and shucking them. I was in charge of removing the bad ones. And then we’d grind them in the big round stone gilingan. Having Munggo always reminded me then that in a few days I’d go back to Manila—my Nanay would cook munggo just when the rains begin in late May. Until now I still think nothing beats a bowl of guisadong munggo on a rainy day!

    Thanks for this post MM, made me smile!

    One thing I don’t like in my guisadong munggo is fish or tinapa..It was just something I picked growing up and eating either mongo with bits of pork, or sometimes even just mongo sauteed with just onions and garlic and a bit of pork lard.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 8:39 pm

  26. quiapo says:

    I am surprised there is only one mention of a childhood favourite – guinataang munggo – is it not fashionable anymore? We used red munggo beans, roasting them in the karahay and then crushing them between newspapers. Easy to prepare and so delicious!

    Jan 13, 2009 | 8:48 pm

  27. jun says:

    monggo with paksiw na bangus is a truly pinoy dish. My nanay always have it on Friday cook on palayok especially pag malapit na ang holyweek. I’m pretty sure that those freshly harvest monggo in the pics above taste great.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:02 am

  28. betty q. says:

    In my one of my AHA! moments way back when, I came up with this dessert in the restaurant which I thought would never sell…you have got to try it MM, Angela, ECC, Maria Clara , Ted, Jun, Guia, MarissewalangKaparis, Connie C., Ebba, Quiapo….Sweetened munggo (I used red kind for visual aesthetics) and stuffed it in wonton wrappers and then deep-fried. Seal it well but not overstuffed! Then as soon as it comes out of the fryer, roll it in cinnamon sugar…paired with vanilla bean ice cream, the dessert SOLD OUT in an hour! …..i achieved the different textures in a single dessert….crunch, silkiness from the ice cream…of course, I plated it as well giving it height!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:10 am

  29. jun says:

    my lolo’s version of monggo. crushed monggo beans, malunggay leaves, bunga ng malunggay, egg plant and bagnet. lots of rice tops with oil from longganisa or tocino. yummy!!!!!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:10 am

  30. penoybalut says:

    I just had to share a merienda of monggo, called keleroy (sp) it is made of roasted monggo then cooked in coconut milk with sugar. I guess this is a Batangas cooking. It must be hard to make as my mom used to make a big pot and share it with the neighbors.


    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:32 am

  31. Anna says:

    When I was a kid, everytime my mom would boil munggo for guisadong munggo, us kids would ask her to leave some so we could mix it with condensed/evaporated milk and brown sugar. So good!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:17 am

  32. ECC says:

    Betty Q, that just sounds so yummy! I wish I was your neighbor so I can try all the delicious food you make.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:24 am

  33. Jacob's Mom says:

    Spent the holidays with my in-laws in the UK and my British sis-in-law made an interesting salad using munggo. She boiled it until it was reasonably soft but still had a bit of a crunchy center then she dressed it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus salt, pepper and some chopped tomatoes and onions. It was very refreshing to see my favorite munggo done up in a different way. :)

    Jan 14, 2009 | 2:38 am

  34. Quillene says:


    It was to be expected to have monggo for table fare on fridays when I was growing up.

    My elders told me that the practice was done in observance of Friday abstinence from meat which was widely observed back then. Nowadays, the Church is not so strict and requires abstaining from meat only during the Lenten season.

    So, in place of meat, monggo (at least in our household) was staple fare on fridays…

    Cheers everyone!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 7:51 am

  35. Quillene says:

    Ms. Bettyq,

    Your monggo recipe sounds very delicious and interesting…

    Would you mind posting the recipe?


    Jan 14, 2009 | 8:54 am

  36. dragon says:

    Like most, ginisang munggo is a Friday staple, lent or not. Being Ilocanos, we referred to it as balatong. It would normally have malunggay leaves, sometimes tomatoes (depending on where the maid/cook/or instructions came from). Interestingly, we’ve never had anything else mixed with it. Of course accompaniments are different: during lent, it’s either fried or grilled (better!) fish; otherwise, fried or grilled (better!) liempo. Again being Ilocanos, there would also be some local salad (tomato, onion, whatever else…)

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:21 pm

  37. betty q. says:

    Quillene: It is soooo simple, cost effective, and took the humble monggo bean and elevated it to a higher level. Nobody in the restaurant couldn’t believe how i was able to make something that nobody would venture into doing. So first, soak the beans…I find the red ones worked really well for this dessert…and boil it till tender. Then I added honey to taste and stirred it occasionally over double boiler since I was doing 10 things at the same time. …this way, I won’t scorch the bottom of the bowl, then added BUTTER …wanted it to be a bit makunat. …so I did this the day before. If it is too wet, then the wonton wrapper will get SOGGY. …much better if used when it is cold…just like haleya!

    If you want exact measurements, I will make some filling in a few days…but just let your taste be your guide. If you can get orange oil, a few drops will do. If not, some orange zest will works wonders as well…not too much or it can be overpowering!

    That’s it…oh, addded, pure vanilla as well and some orange zest. Then stuff yourwonton wraper…not too full. Each stuffed wonton looked unique in their own way…in other words, they had their own identity! it looks better that way on the plate making it much more intresting. Then deep fry. It only takes a few seconds (the filling is already cooked!) As soon as it comes out of the fryer, drain on paper towels and roll in cinnamon sugar.

    To serve, make a quenelle shaped vanilla bean ice cream…take two spoons and use one spoon to smoothen the sides in a pyramid shape. Serve with the deep fried sweet won tons. I must admit though the the wait staff at the restaurant are so good at selling their favourites!

    At home though, this is how I prefer eating this. I smoosh the ice cream till it is softened, then i dip the wontons in the soft ice cream and plop in my mouth. There is all these sensations in my mouth playing…warm and cold, crunchy and silky!!!!

    But here is another simple satisfying comfort food as dessert served in most Chinese restaurants…sweetened RED mongo soup boiled tender with dried tangerine peel. Add a touch of coconut milk and tiny BILO-BILO and some tiny SAGO!!!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  38. enrick says:

    mr.mm…here in malabon we even have fried turon with sweetened red munggo filling..yummmmmm!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:22 pm

  39. emy medina says:

    very informative!!!
    and thanks for the creative recipe,betty q

    Jan 14, 2009 | 2:08 pm

  40. betty q. says:

    OMG, ECC and EBBA! Can you imagine…if we were neighbours, we all will have a BLAST!…AND lahat tayo LOLOBO!!!…hahahaha…

    Jan 14, 2009 | 2:28 pm

  41. Blaise says:

    I like my monggo cold, in a ice candy or “ice cream” stick. I honestly have not yet tried ginisang monggo.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 5:01 pm

  42. melly bag says:

    AAAAAHHHHH!!!! You all make me hungry. Bagnet, good Baguio/Ilocos/Quezon langonisas are not found here in Austin, Texas.

    When we were kids we were given sinugno for merienda/afternoon snack. It is made from sweet sticky rice with roasted monggo beans and coconut milk and sugar. It is thick and just a bit soupy. Delicious!!!

    Buchi is also filled with monggo or sometimes camote.


    Jan 15, 2009 | 7:31 am

  43. Belgin says:

    I’m wondering is there anyone who can tell me why ginisang munggo is usually served on Fridays? I realized it just now because in our household its only cooked on that certain day and I haven’t had the chance to ask about it but just now.

    Jan 15, 2009 | 12:00 pm

  44. aleth says:

    quillene: :) friday monggo-isda combination was a practice in my grandmother’s house while we were growing up – fasting of sort. even now at my age and out of Phil. i still do practice that monggo-isda ritual… tks for the memories.. :)

    Jan 15, 2009 | 5:16 pm

  45. ted says:

    Friday monggo and paksiw na bangus was practiced at my mom’s home way back in my younger days. I still do this every once in awhile but come ash wednesday this becomes an every friday staple at home.

    Jan 16, 2009 | 9:21 am

  46. CecileJ says:

    Same with us: munggo-fried fish combo was served during all the Fridays of Lent. Abstinence food.

    Jan 19, 2009 | 4:34 pm

  47. apple nuevas says:

    hey market man! what were you doing in boljoon?! my lola is from there and its a beautiful town!! your munggo pic looks so yum!! sarap since its malamig!

    Jan 19, 2009 | 9:11 pm

  48. jane says:

    Many Pinoy’s especially those who grew up in Manila & neighboring towns doesn’t know that the young bean pods is cooked as gulay just like string beans with whatever sahog you like, fish, shrimps or meat. It goes well with bunga ng malunggay. I just had it last month after maybe 10 years and nothing compares to it. It completed my holiday, yummy…
    Maybe, you should try this Marketman :). And yes, winnowing the husks away is a piece of cake to me, though I haven’t tried it for a long, long time..

    Jan 20, 2009 | 9:00 pm

  49. Divina says:

    I haven’t seen fresh monggo. Interesting.

    Aug 5, 2009 | 2:21 pm

  50. emsy says:

    At the risk of embarrassing myself, I’d like to ask if “fresh” munggo is already hard? Or is it softer than the ones sold in the groceries?

    Dec 9, 2009 | 3:20 pm

  51. Marketman says:

    emsy, it is already hard, but less dehydrated I would guess than “grocery” munggo. :)

    Dec 9, 2009 | 4:47 pm

  52. Jack Hammer says:

    Ahhh….Munggo and Alugbatti or Okra or Upo Ginisang …specially with de-husked split moong dal…we also mix moong dal with red lentils dal….”Dal” or “Daal” is simply de-hulled and split beans or lentils while “Sabut” means whole. We also use Moong Dal with tender Fenugreek or Methi leaves, the best Methi is the two leaf cress. Bean Sprouts 1/2 a centimetre long, satueed with Onions, pureed fresh tomatoes, Ginger, Green Chilly, and a pinch of Asafoetida and a pinch of Turmeric is a delightful side dish. Truly the poor man’s best Veg Protiens.

    Mar 2, 2010 | 5:54 pm

  53. beths says:

    hi mr munggo,, i like monggo very much,lalo na pag may halong ampalaya…wow i can eat a lot!! thanks for the information…. here in the Phillippines we eat a lot of monggo,, especially the ilocanos,,we love to plant monggo and eat,,just add ampalaya leaves to make it more palatable and to enjoy the savory taste of monggo

    Jul 21, 2010 | 10:34 am


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