The Happy Home Cook: Sabaw ng Munggo Guisado

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Sabaw ng Munggo Guisado (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Sabaw ng Munggo Guisado (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

According to Narcisa Rizal Lopez, Jose Rizal’s sister, the favorite dish of her brother “Joseng” was Sabaw ng Munggo (Mung Beans Soup) which he garnished with ampalaya leaves. This was a dish the Philippine National Hero liked to serve to family and friends who visited him in Dapitan when he was in exile. Rizal believed in serving nutritious food to his guests. His sisters Narcisa, Maria, Trinidad and Josefa frequently visited him in Dapitan and the munggo served to them was cooked in coconut oil, shrimps, chicken slices and wild mushrooms from the backyard. It was observed Rizal like to add “panutsa” (round discs of brown sugar) to sweeten the dish then seasoned the soup with salt, black pepper, soy sauce and olive oil. Guests believed that the munggo was one of the many vegetables which Rizal himself grew in his backyard. (From the cookbook “Kasaysayan ng Kaluto ng Bayan” by Milagros S. Enriquez).

My modern version of Sabaw ng Munggo is slightly similar to the classic recipe from the 19th century during the time of Jose Rizal.

Serves 2 to 4


monggo or mung beans - 1 cup
water - for pre-soaking beans
vegetable oil - 2 Tablespoons
onion - 1 whole, chopped
garlic - 2 cloves, minced
fresh ginger - 1/2 teaspoon, minced
tomato - 1-2 pieces, sliced
pork shoulder - 200 gms., fat trimmed, sliced in 1-inch pieces
organic vegetable broth - 4 to 6 cups
bagoong (shrimp paste) - 1 Tablespoon
freshly-ground black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon
boiled rice - for serving


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, pre-soak mung beans in water for about 30 minutes.

  2. In a medium-sized stockpot, over medium high heat, boil the monggo/mung beans in water enough to cover beans. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes till beans are soft. Drain liquid.

  3.  In the same medium stockpot, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil . Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Then add the slivers of pork. Cook pork for 5 to 8 minutes till it browns. Add the softened mung beans.

  4. Blend the ingredients well with the mung beans. Add the broth  and shrimp paste or "bagoong". Season with black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. After it boils, lower heat and continue simmering for five minutes more.

  5. Add the spinach leaves and cook for 1 to 2 minutes till leaves are soft.

  6. Serve warm with a large bowl of steamed jasmine white rice.

Serving Sabaw ng Munggo Guisado (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Serving Sabaw ng Munggo Guisado (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

COOK’S COMMENTS: Munggo or Mung Beans can be found in most Asian groceries or large, major supermarkets. They are tiny, green round to oval-shaped beans, packaged in plastic bags. The Philippine shrimp paste or "bagoong" is also available in Asian groceries. If preferred, substitute fresh shrimps for the pork slices.

*Most Filipino recipes of Munggo Guisado use ampalaya green leaves which resemble spinach and add an interesting contrast to the sautéed soup meal. Here in America, I substitute spinach leaves instead.

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Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “How to Cook Philippine Desserts: Cakes and Snacks” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site

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