Filipino soup / stew

Balatong/ Monggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014Enz F

Mung beans or moong beans are green plant legumes popularly used in various savory dishes and desserts across the Asia. Also known as nga choi (Chinese), cheru payaru (Malayalam), mash (Persian), kacang hijau (Malay) and rovitsa (Greek), the plant usually thrives in dry and hot regions of India, China, the Southeast Asia and in other southern parts of Europe and the U.S. In the Philippines, the beans are turned into sweet paste to make fillings for the popular local pastries known as hopia (also bakpia in Indonesia and black eye cake in Guyana). Also, the beans are sautéed to make a hearty stew and served with either shrimps or fish specially on Fridays during the observance of the Lent - the season when Roman Catholic Filipinos traditionally abstain from consuming red meat. Furthermore, mung bean is a good source of protein and can be an alternative to meat for vegetarians. It is also suitable for people with strict dietary requirement as a cup of mung beans would only yield less than 30 calories.

Balatong is a popular dish usually served on Fridays of the Lent.
If I have to suggest a Pinoy dish that does not need expensive ingredients yet will provide a hearty and high value nutritional content, Balatong or Monggo Guisado would certainly top my most recommended list. It is composed of stewed mung beans flavored with choice of fish or meat and complemented with greens and vegetables like spinach and leaves and fruits of bitter gourd. I have learned from my Ilocana grandma the use of bagoong (fermented fish sauce) and hibi (dried shrimp) as components for the mung bean soup. In this particular recipe, I used the latter plus a couple of tablespoons of regular fish sauce as I found bagoong too salty for this dish. I also love to top it with crushed chicharon (cracklings) for that added crunch. Again, chicharon is just optional especially if you are abstaining from meat.

Monggo guisado is a healthy Pinoy dish that does not require expensive ingredients.
At home, we do not only cook monggo during Lent, hence the addition of pork in my recipe. It is also a comfort dish best served anytime, specially during cold and rainy seasons. When my Dad would not feel well, he would just request for a bowl of ginisang monggo along with fried tinapa (smoked fish) and plenty of steamed rice. If you are a frugal Pinoy eater and you want to prepare a healthy dish without spending too much penny, this one would certainly be a runaway choice.
Balatong/ Monggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)
Number of Servings: 6

  • 1 cup monggo (mung beans)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 pcs. small tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ lb. pork, diced
  • 2 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. hibi (dried shrimp)
  • 4-5 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of dahon ampalaya (bitter gourd leaves)
  • crushed chicharon (pork cracklings), for toppings (optional)
  • 2 tbsps. cooking oil

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the mung beans and cook for about 40 minutes or until the beans are soft and mushy. Using a huge colander, separate the mung beans from the liquid. Set aside the beans and the broth.
  2. In a large saucepan. Heat the cooking oil. Sauté the garlic and onion.
  3. Add the pork and fish sauce. Continue to cook until the pork turns light brown.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook until wilted.
  5. Add the dried shrimp and stir well to combine.
  6. Gradually add the drained beans and sauté for about 2 minutes. Pour the broth and simmer over low to medium for about 8 minutes or until the desired thickness of the soup is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the bitter gourd leaves and remove from heat. Keep covered for 3 more minutes to cook the leaves with the residual heat. Top with crushed chicharon and serve with plenty of steamed rice. Enjoy!

  1. If hibi is not available, you may substitute dried anchovies or tinapa flakes (smoked fish flakes).
  2. If there is no bitter gourd leaves, boost your greens by adding anything from spinach, watercress or malunggay (moringa leaves). Along with the leaves, bitter gourd fruit can also be added.
  3. Chicharon or pork cracklings are just optional but you can add crispy fried bacon as an alternative.

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