Ginisang munggo is a Filipino dish long associated with Fridays and Catholic temperance. That it is easy to cook, inexpensive, and made from a protein-rich legume have made it a staple food for those observing days of abstinence.
In the past, Catholics (and early Christians) used to follow the dogma of no “flesh meat” every Friday of the year. This has since narrowed down to a few days in Lent, although some religious people today still observe the Friday ritual as a form of penitence.
The present-day version of ginisang munggo, however, is far removed from the earlier idea of self-denial. Originally, it most likely featured the bean with bits of fish or dried shrimps (hibe). Today, the dish has been ramped up into a hearty dish containing pork meat, sometimes chicken, fresh shrimps, and even chicharon (pork rinds) as toppings.
You can often find munggo in the company canteen, the neighborhood turo-turo, and even in “Jolli-jeeps”, those food vehicles parked in street corners of job districts such as Makati City.
But it’s not often in the menu of most Filipino restaurants. There’s always chopsuey or pinakbet in the vegetable section, but rarely munggo.
This is a pity since munggo is a dish that’s easy to prepare and more importantly, it’s highly nutritious. Mung bean is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin C, K, B6, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folate, and many more. It is also low in saturated fat (but has essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6) and high in dietary fiber.
Vegetarians love munggo beans because they’re one of the few non-meat food items that are rich in protein. A cup of cooked mung beans contains 14.2 grams of protein, a 28 percent daily value, which means you will get almost a third of your protein needs in a day from just a cup of beans.
They can also be cooked in advance, which is a boon for working parents with children. You can also cook in increments by doing steps 3 and 4 a day or two in advance. For this recipe using 400 grams of beans, you can already get generous servings for four to six people.
• 400 grams green munggo beans
• 2 medium size yellow onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
• 4 large garlic cloves, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
• 5 medium size native tomatoes, sliced (1 cup)
• 1/2 kilo white shrimp or suahe
• 1/4 kilo pork cubes
• a bunch of sili (pepper) leaves
• extra-virgin olive oil
• fish sauce
1. Wash the munggo beans very well with water, remove hard beans and any impurities. Place cleaned beans in a pot, fill with water up to two inches above the beans, cover, and place over medium heat.
2. Cook the beans until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Check it every now and then, add water when necessary but restrain yourself from adding too much. The beans are ready when they’ve cracked open to reveal all that starchy goodness inside. Set aside.
3. Clean the shrimps for a bit under running water and then place in a pot with cover. Don’t add water. Cook until just done. When the shrimps have turned orange and you don’t see any traces of grey, turn off the heat, and let them cool in the pot.
4. Take another pot (I know, more to wash, but that’s why we’re cooking a lot so it’s all worth it) and put in the pork cubes and enough water to cover. Cook until tender, and then take them out of the pot to drain in a colander.
5. When the shrimps have cooled down, slice off the heads and return them to the pot. Start shelling the shrimp bodies, and place all the shells into the same pot. Put the shrimp meat in a separate bowl.
6. Add 2 cups of water into the pot with the shrimp heads and shells and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. When done, decant broth into a bowl and throw out the shells, but you can eat the heads, if you want.
7. Slice the pork into strips and set aside.
8. Heat up a large deep pot or Dutch oven (I use my Staub for soupy dishes like this) and swirl in about two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the sliced pork and cook until slightly brown. Remove the pork from the pot. Add the onions and sauté for two minutes. Now, add the garlic and the tomatoes; let cook for about 5-7 minutes.
9. Return the pork to the pot, add the cooked beans, shrimp meat, and the shrimp broth (eyeball it, if there’s too much liquid, don’t put in everything). The level of soup consistency is a matter of taste, of course, and I always prefer to take the middle ground.
10. Season with about 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Let it cook for a further 5 minutes to let the flavors come together. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Add the sili leaves to the dish just before serving.