Monday, July 02, 2012

Munggo with Gata and Kalabasa (mung beans with coconut milk and squash)

The windows of our bedrooms face due east so we get the sunrise every day.  As much a sunrise as you can get in the middle of the city.  Which, actually, has its own special magic…at least to me.  Rays of light suddenly bursting into being like so many bright yellow arms reaching around towers of concrete, all at once being reflected and fractured and reflected again, like a beam going through a thousand prisms, against the steel and glass of the stalwart urban sentinels I call my neighbors.

I love the dawn.  Even if, despite all my best efforts and intentions, I am still not naturally a morning person.  I struggle to wake up, greedily and groggily clinging to the last vestiges of my slumber.  I try vainly to develop and internal body clock.  To date, much to my frustration, it hasn’t kicked in.  Perhaps that’s why I love having the morning’s new light creep through my bedroom shades, its fingers coaxing me out from under the covers.

Dawn, unlike any other time of the day, is filled with such golden promise.  Old melancholies fade away and new potential beckons.  It is that short, sweet, moment that light has resolutely claimed from darkness, but in which the whisper and allure of dreams still somehow hold subtle sway.  In the calm before the clamor of the rest of the world crashes in, you can hear the voices that tell you to believe in what lies in the deepest places of your heart, and in that magic hush anything is possible.

This dish is not something I would typically associate with the dawn, but it is a great comfort food.  A hot bowl of this, scooped over a generous serving of rice, can put me in the same calm place.

Munggo with Gata and Kalabasa
(mung beans with coconut milk and squash)
  • 200 grams munggo (mung beans)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 red onions, peeled, one chopped and one quartered
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Canola oil (or any other mildly flavored vegetable oil)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup hibe (small dried shrimp)
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 450 gram wedge of squash, peeled and chopped into about 1-inch cubes (350 grams, cut weight)
  • 1 bunch malunggay (moringa), leaves picked (yields about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
- Rinse munggo and pick through for little stones.  After I check for stones I like to rinse the beans through a sieve to get rid of any dirt.
- Place munggo, bay leaf, the quartered onion, and the ginger in a saucepan or pot that will hold double its volume.  Cover with cool water until about 2 inches above the beans.  Set pot on medium heat, cover, and cook until beans are soft.  This can take anywhere from 30 minutes – 1 hour (depending on how old your beans are).  Check occasionally and stir to make sure it is not drying out and sticking.  If it seems to be drying out just add more water.  Once the beans are soft, set aside.  At this point the level of liquid should be just at the same level as the beans.
- Heat a kawali (wok) or saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add a few swirls of canola oil and, when hot, add the chopped onion and garlic.  Sautee, stirring, until the onion is soft and transluscent.  Add the hibe and keep sautéing  until the shrimp is coated in the oil and takes on a little moisture.  Add the cooked munggo and its liquid, the coconut milk, and the squash.  Turn the heat down to low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is softened.  Add the malunggay leaves and cook for about 15 minutes more. 
- Season to taste with the patis (fish sauce).  You may need less or more depending on how salty you hibe is.  Give it a final stir and take off the heat.
- Serve hot with lots of steamed rice.

I love munggo.  I also love coconut milk.  The two together work brilliantly.  The coconut milk’s silky creaminess is perfect with the munggo’s earthiness.  The hibe and the fish sauce give it a rounded savory depth that salt would not be able to replicate.  If you can’t find hibe where you are, just adjust the seasoning with a bit more fish sauce.  If you can't find malunggay you can use sweet potato leaves or, failing that, spinach.  Between the munggo, malunggay, and the squash, this is not only deliciously comforting, but highly nutritious as well.  If I weren’t feeding a little one, I also would throw in a couple of green finger chilis (sili pangsigang) to the pot.

I’ve been working on training my body clock to rise “with the sun”.  I love those days that I am able to.  I sit at my desk, an espresso with steamed milk at my side, its aroma waking my senses up.  I raise the shades to let in the new morning.  My family is sleeping and the streets below my window have yet to fill with their usual bustle. I hear my dreams whisper to me and, because it is so quiet, I listen in ways I cannot during the rest of the day.  And I whisper back.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Healthy, comforting and delicious! An interesting combination.



Ирина Кулёва said...

Отличный суп, буду повторять!

Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings said...

Now that I have kids, I have no choice but to become a morning person! LOL! I wouldn't mind a bowl of this greeting me in the morning...! LOL!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Rosa!

Hi Ирина Кулёва! Thanks :) It is a great soup and I hope you do get to try it :)

Hi Jen! I know what you mean! Since I had the little one I sleep so much less than before! :)

Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum said...

I am really excited that I found your blog! I'm an American teacher/food blogger living in Cebu for the year. We just got here 2 weeks ago and I've already fallen in love with Munggos beans! :) I was hoping to find a recipe for a soup like this - this is perfect! What part of the Philippines do you live in?

Shalum said...

Perfect for the rainy days--with salted fish and rice? :) Yum :)

Josephine said...

That is certainly not your usual breakfast or at least my usual I'll have to try it. Thanks

sanju said...

Hi Joey,

You can also try substituting lentils for the mungo. It could work albeit with a slightly different flavor profile.


Pam said...

Oh wow. Yummmmy! Thank you for this! Maybe this will get my hubby to love monggo as much as I do. Can't wait to try this!

mewie said...

The meal looks very enticing but what I really enjoyed was the text that goes with it, very poetic, I must say.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lindsay! I love munggo beans too and there are more recipes on my blog aside from the current one :) They are so versatile! I'm from Manila but if you have any questions just let me know and I'll do my best :) Wishing you the best for your stay here!

Hi Shalum! Truly! This is rainy day food :)

Hi Josephine! Well, this isn’t my usual breakfast either ;) More like lunch or dinner :)

Hi Sanju! I sure that would be delicious! I love lentils :)

Hi Pam! Nice to see another monggo lover! I also make a version where I boil the monggo with a ham bone and sauté with chorizo and bacon (and garlic and onion), and a touch of smoked paprika…this seems to go over well with boys who are not usually fond of monggo :) Maybe your hubby will like it too!

Hi Mewie! Thanks for your kind words! I am glad you enjoyed the post :)

Michelle MacPhearson said...

I love anything with coconut milk, so I'll give this a whirl!

ChichaJo said...

Hope you like it Michelle!

Susannah Nunn said...

This looks AMAZING! Right up my street x

Junglefrog said...

Morning and me are not always on good terms. I like to think I am a morning person as I do love the morning but getting out mod bed remains a less then perfect moment. Love your mung dish!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Susannah! Thanks! :)

Hi Simone! I know exactly what you mean!

Dexie said...

I love the colors. Oh and that bowl, I want that bowl, with the munggo of course, :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Dexie! Got the bowl at a department store clearance sale :)

Rose T | Cake Recipes from Scratch said...

love it!!!
tasty, simple & healthy breakfast recipes are the best as no one wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen...

Anonymous said...

i made this but without gata.. i dont like gata though my daddy is bicolano... it was my 1st time to cook gnsang munggo.1st time. 1st time to use the pressure cooker and everything. well, it was a success. it tasted good. will do it again and make it better... glad i saw your blog... keep on cooking... ^^ ann

Candy said...

Hello! I will be trying out your recipe this week (and the others too!).

I am just wondering how many people your recipes are for? This is so I can re-portion if needed.

Thanks :-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Candy! This will feed about 4 people, more or less :) Most of my recipes are for around this amount, unless otherwise specified or obviously a 1-2 serving recipe. I actually, hardly ever make huge portions unless cooking for a crowd :) Hope you enjoy the recipes!

Candy said...

Oh good! Thanks for the quick reply. I've just started cooking for my family and my portion sizes go extremes. :-)