Ginisang mongo is a dish I have eaten several hundred times and, I am truly amazed to admit, have never cooked it for myself. A classic dish that was almost always served with chicken and pork adobo in our house, this is Filipino comfort food at its finest. It is soupy, great hot or warm, tasty, substantial, rich in protein, possesses a memorable texture and is cathartic to smush into your rice. I am told it is a nearly â€œfool proofâ€ dish to prepare but this brief side story suggests otherwiseâ€¦ During the late 80â€™s in Manila when coup dâ€™etats were de rigeur, my father found himself marooned in a Makati village (gated community, that is, not a bunch of nipa huts in some idyllic coconut grove) with just his faithful driver. They decided to stay in the house to â€œprotectâ€ it and since it was beside some minor kingdomâ€™s ambassadorial residence, they felt they could jump the wall and get diplomatic protection if necessaryâ€¦hmmm.
My father couldnâ€™t boil water if his life depended on it, so his venture into making some ginisang munggo rather than relying on spam or corned beef was a real stretch. I think he said that he popped the beans into a pan and added water, salt and some onions and stirred away over high heat. It was an utter disaster. He never attempted to cook ever again. They ate rice and sardines that the driver cooked. When the rest of the family was told the story (by the driver, of course), we rolled around on the floor in stitches for hours. His biggest mistake? Probably putting a lot of salt into the water with the raw beans before turning on the heat as the salt gets in the way of softening the beans. Here is our cookâ€™s simple recipe for ginisang munggo. Put say 2 cups of dried munggo in a pot and added double to triple the volume of water say, 5-6 cups. Bring to a gentle boil and add water if necessary as it boils and the liquid gets absorbed into the beans. Continue cooking for 30-40+ minutes until the beans soften and there is just a little liquid left in the pot (depends how soupy you like it). Then in another pan, heat up some oil, sautÃ© garlic, onions, tomatoes, some chopped pork or shrimp, and add the mongo. Season with salt and pepper and just before taking off of the heat add some talbos ng ampalaya (bitter gourd tendrils). While this is a great and nutritious dish combined with rice, I like it best when served with adobo. There are so many personal versions of this dish that can include dried fish, other seafood, meat, etc. Others like to soak the beans overnight (what does that mean?! 8 hours? Sunset to sunrise?), hull the beans (are they joking?), etc. I just go for the simplest version. If you balance the flavors right, it is just delicious.