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Mung beans

Category: Food



Introduction and description

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The mung bean (Vigna radiata), alternatively known as the moong bean, green gram, “but not mungo or mingo”, is a plant species in the legume family.

Native to the Indian subcontinent, the mung bean is mainly cultivated today in India, China, and Southeast Asia. It is also cultivated in hot, dry regions in Southern Europe and the Southern United States. It is used as an ingredient in both savoury and sweet dishes.

Mung beans can be eaten as a bean, but they are perhaps best known as ‘bean sprouts' – in which case they are better classified as sprouted seeds, as their nutrient content changes from that of a bean to a sprout!



Mung bean sprouts are germinated by leaving them in water for four hours of daytime light and spending the rest of the day in the dark.

They are usually simply called "bean sprouts", however, if we wanted to be pedantic when bean sprouts are called for in recipes, it should be more specific, because although nine times out of ten it refers to mung bean sprouts, it could refer to soybean sprouts.

Once sprouted, Mung beans can be stir-fried as they are in Chinese cuisine, for example with garlic, ginger, or spring onions, or they can be eaten raw, as long as they are well sprouted.  Uncooked bean sprouts are used in filling for Vietnamese spring rolls, for example, as well as a garnish for phở.


They are a major ingredient in a variety of Malaysian and Peranakan cuisine, including char kway teow, hokkien mee, mee rebus, and pasembor. In Korea, slightly cooked mung bean sprouts, called sukjunamul (hangul: 숙주나물), are often served as a side dish. They are blanched (placed into boiling water for less than a minute), immediately cooled in cold water, and mixed with sesame oil, garlic, salt, and often other ingredients. In the Philippines, mung bean sprouts are made into lumpia rolls called lumpiang togue. In Indonesia the food are often used as fillings like Tahu Isi (stuffed tofu) and complimentary ingredient in many cookings such as rawon and soto.

In northern China and Korea, soybean sprouts, called kongnamul (hangul: 콩나물) in Korean, are more widely used in a variety of dishes.


There have been cases reported in the USA of deaths caused by poor growing of bean sprouts.  You can buy packets of mung beans and grow your own if you are worried about the standards in which the mung beans are sprouted in your area

Two dead from Listeria in mung bean sprouts – Joe Whitworth 10th November 2014 [reported in food quality news.com
Mung bean sprouts contaminated with listeria have been linked to the deaths of two people and the illness of three others, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Five people fell ill from two states – Illinois and Michigan – between June and August and had to be hospitalised.  The company [X] issued a recall in August due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination after the Food and Drug Administration isolated the pathogen samples


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