Togue (mung bean sprouts) is among the cheapest vegetables available all year ’round in many Southeast Asian countries, and at least one version of the very basic mung bean sprouts stir fry can be found in every region of every Southeast Asian nation.
In the Philippines, we have the ubiquitous togue guisado, literally, sautéed mung bean sprouts, but the name may be a misnomer because only the aromatics are in fact sautéed and the mung bean sprouts are stir fried with the sautéed aromatics afterward. Other vegetables like sliced green beans and julienned carrots are sometimes added both for color and texture. The non-vegetable ingredient may be shrimp, pork or tofu, or a combination of two or all of them.
In this version of mung bean sprouts stir fry, I added crispy pork belly which needs to be cooked and cut before the sprouts are stir fried. Click here for instructions on how to cook crispy pork belly.
The seasoning is basically a combination of fish and soy sauce because both give an added depth to saltiness that plain salt just can’t provide. Why not one or the other? First, because they have different flavors and it would be such a pity not to have both in the dish. Second, for that wonderful color. Fish sauce alone leaves the mung bean sprouts too pale after cooking; soy sauce without fish sauce makes the sprouts too dark. So, I used a combination for this mung beans sprouts stir fry.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots (or one onion), thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger chopped
- 200 grams mung bean sprouts rinsed and drained well
- a combination of fish sauce and soy sauce to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
- a bit of sugar for balance
- crispy pork belly (as much or as little as you like), chopped
- scallions or parsley snipped, to garnish
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the shallots (or onion), tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute. Season with fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Continue sautéing until softened and aromatic.
Add the mung bean sprouts and stir fry (high heat!) for about half a minute. Note that sprouts contain a lot of water and the water will get expelled when the sprouts touch the heat. So, the less time you cook the mung bean sprouts, the less water they will expel. Besides, you don’t really want to overcook the sprouts; you want them to retain a light crispness by the time the dish is done. So, stir fry for no more than a half a minute and keep the contents of the pan moving.
Add the chopped crispy pork belly. Stir fry for another half a minute just until the meat is heated through and the mung bean sprouts are done but still crisp.
Garnish with snipped greens before serving. A dipping sauce (fish sauce, soy sauce and crush chiles) is recommended.