Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rosh Hashanah, Filipino-Style: Mongo Guisado (Mung Bean Stew)

"You always make things because you think I should like them, not because it is something that I like."

Maya is right of course.  That is what I do.  But, when you are making a Filipino Rosh Hashanah dinner based on Mechado for a large group of beef-stew lovers,  there has to be something for the family vegetarian to eat and mongo seemed like a good choice.  This is a stick-to-your ribs stew of mung beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, lime, greens and traditionally, leftover lechon kawali, or deep-fried pork belly.  When properly made (as it was at the late, lamented Cendrillon and presumably still is at Purple Yam),  the lechon is so crisp and flaky that you don't quite know when your mouth begins to make contact with the crust.  However, I have moved beyond lechon and in any case this did not seem like an appropriate ingredient for a Jewish New Year's meal, let alone for the dish intended to please the vegetarian at the table.  So I worked out this version based on a recipe in Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan's (the owners of Purple Yam)  Memories of Philippine Kitchens .   A few departures from their recipe:  I find that  broth made from whole mung beans can have an unpleasant flavor, so in addition to soaking them, I drain them after boiling.  I also only boil them for about 15 minutes, since this preserves their texture.  At Romy and Amy's suggestion, I leave out the lechon and use coconut milk for richness.  I used light coconut milk, which was perfectly acceptable.  Regular would have been far better, but also far more fattening.  Also, for flavor and texture, I added vegetarian chorizo. If I weren't making it with a vegetarian in mind, I would have used a dry turkey kubano sausage, or looked for a kosher chorizo.  (Those who eat treyf can make it with regular Mexican or Spanish chorizo which will certainly be easier to find than Philippino lechon.)

So, did she like it?  "Ugh.  It reminds me of something they used to serve me in Uganda.  I'll pass."

Mongo Guisado  -- Mung Bean Stew

  • 1 cup whole green mung beans (with the skin)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 vegetarian chorizos , cut into half inch slices (ok to substitute a meat sausage if you don't need a vegetarian or pareve dish)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 7 ounces coconut milk (light ok, use more if you want)
  • 1 teaspoon or more of Bragg's aminos or soy sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 10 ounces to 1 pound fresh spinach, washed well, coarse stems removed, shredded if desired

  1. Wash mung beans and soak 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain, rinse and drain again, and put in a medium pot with about 5-6 cups water.
  3. Bring to the boil, turn heat down to simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes until barely tender.  A few of the beans may be bursting.  Drain and discard the liquid and reserve the beans.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot. (You will need a large utensil to accommodate the spinach later), and saute the sausage until crisp on both sides. Remove the sausage, drain on paper towels and reserve.
  5. Add onion to the fat in the skillet, sprinkle lightly with salt, and saute until soft but not brown.  Add garlic and saute a few minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes and their juice and cook on high about 15 minutes until much of the liquid evaporates and thickens into a sauce. Add lime juice and cook a few minutes more.
  7. Add the coconut milk and cook on medium until it is absorbed and the sauce is thick. 
  8. Mix the reserved mung beans into the sauce, taste and season with Bragg's or salt. Simmer about 10 minutes so that the flavors can meld.  The stew can be set ahead at this point.
  9. When ready to serve, bring to the boil and add spinach.  You may need to do this in several batches to allow it to wilt into the stew.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes until done.
  10. Serve garnished with the crisp sausage slices and with additional lime wedges.
  11. With rice and a salad, this is a main dish for four.  It is also a side for 8, and may be doubled.

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