Tiny and hard as pebbles when dried, mung beans are among the cheapest vegetables one can buy in Asia. In dried form, when properly stored, mung beans can last for months.
What are mung beans?
Mung bean is a legume. The most common color is green but mung beans come in several colors including yellow, olive, brown, purple and red.
An important ingredient in Asian cooking, mung bean is grown for the edible seeds and sprouts. In the Philippines, we call mung beans monggo or munggo.
Mung beans in sweet and savory dishes
The seeds are used in both savory and sweet dishes. But it’s impossible to eat the dried seeds raw. They have to be boiled in water until they soften.
How long they should be cooked, and in how much water, depends on the dish they are intended to go into. If intended to be cooked as patties or fritters, they should be cooked in the minimal amount of water. If they are meant to become a soup or a stew, more water can be used.
An array of Chinese pastries, including the mooncake, have fillings made with mung bean paste.
How to store dried mung beans
First of all, make sure that the dried mung beans are free from moisture. Do not rinse prior to storage. You can do that before cooking.
Take a jar with a tight container, preferably a screw-type cap with a rubber sealer. Pour the mung beans into the jar. Optionally, throw in silica gel. Cover the jar and keep on a shelf in a cool section of the pantry and away from the sun.
Mung bean sprouts are cooked as a vegetable
Mung bean sprouts are more popular outside Asia than the dried beans. Grown by germinating the seeds, the sprouts are cooked as a vegetable or, occasionally, served raw as a side dish.
What does germinating mean? You make the seeds grow roots. You can plant them on the soil directly. Scatter the seeds, cover with soil very shallowly, keep them moist and just wait for the sprouts to grow.
Or you can germinate the seeds in a jar. The beans are soaked in water, exposed to the sun everyday for a couple of hours then kept in the dark the rest of the time.