Kitchen & Pantry

Labo or linaw? Know your monggo (mung beans). Monggo (mung beans)

Okay, so you bought monggo and made a stew with a cup of the stuff. But why is the stew so watery? Shouldn’t the monggo have released its starch into the broth and made it thick?

Ah, see, there’s “monggo labo” and “monggo linaw”. Even I didn’t know that until today. And I wouldn’t have known had not Speedy told me. And how did he learn about “monggo labo” and “monggo linaw”? He bought monggo earlier to make a stew with chunks of lechon kawali in it. The monggo label said “monggo labo”, he asked the supermarket attendant what it meant and she told him that, when cooked, “monggo labo” is thick which “monggo linaw” is thin.

It has to do with the starchiness — some types of mung beans are just naturally starchier than others. There’s more than one type? You may have already noticed that there’s green, yellow and red mung beans. But the variety goes beyond color.

Hundreds of experimental lines of mungbean have been tested in the United States (primarily at Texas A & M University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Missouri) over the years. Much of this testing and research has been coordinated with the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan which is the international center responsible for mungbean research worldwide. A few years ago some work on mungbean was also being done at the Morden, Manitoba research station for Agriculture Canada, especially looking for earlier maturing, upright growth habit varieties.

Maturity, upright versus prostrate growth habits, small versus large seed types and color of seed are important attributes to be considered when selecting a variety. The sprouting industry desires a superior germination rate of the seed to produce a thick, crisp, white colored hypocotyl with a minimum of roots present. There are varietal differences for several of these characteristics.

Currently the only breeding programs are at Oklahoma State and Texas A & M Universities, but some private seed companies have seed of certain varieties of their own. [Purdue University’s Center for New Crops and Plant Products]

How do we know the characteristics of the mung beans we’re buying? That can be tricky. Unless you’re a horticulture expert, you probably can’t tell just by looking and touching. When in doubt, ask the seller. Sometimes, sellers are fountains of useful information.

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