Mung bean porridge


    Rice porridge was my enemy.

    In elementary years, I got a fever about once every month. Aside from feeling tired and having weird dreams when the fever got high, I didn’t really mind that, but my mom did. She was so worried she wouldn’t sleep for days, not until my temperature went back to normal. And she made sure that I ate my rice porridge. She made rice porridge with ground pork and rice porridge with fish, she added vegetable, she seasoned it perfectly, and I still hated every spoon of it. I hated the texture of rice porridge: mushy and textureless. I hated both thick porridge and watery porridge(*). Every porridge meal was a battle between Mom and me, and I always lost, which deepened my aversion to porridge even more. But there were happy days when I actually liked my fever porridge and didn’t need my mom to prod: it was mung bean porridge on those days.

    Actually, there’s rice in mung bean porridge, too, but the mung bean skin makes the porridge all nuttier and better. Then it’s a sweet porridge (just rice, mung bean and sugar, no meat), so that’s doubly better. Health-wise, mung bean is a cooling food(*), which would help alleviating the fever and digesting. Little Mom says that the Central Vietnamese eat mung bean porridge with cá kho tiêu (small caramelized pepper braised fish) instead of sugar, I can see that being tasty, and I can imagine substituting the fish with myulchi bokkum (멸치 볶음, dried fried anchovies) for availability. But I’ve found another way to heighten the mung bean porridge experience while keeping it vegan:

    I dip toasted rice cracker into the porridge. We had leftover rice crackers from a lunch of rice cracker and pork rolls. There I was sitting, slurping and chewing my porridge, and staring at the stack of crackers, and it just came. Now you get crunchy, airy, nutty, sweet, sesame-y, toasty, liquidy, all in one bite. ;-)

    (*) These days I can tolerate watery porridge, but I still avoid the thick kind.
    (**) I wrote a brief section on the cooling vs. heating effect of food in the post Benefits of Tea.


    The Recipe: Childhood Love Mung Bean Porridge (8 servings)

    — 250 g mung bean (halved but not shelled)
    — 1/2 cup rice
    — 1.2 l (42 fl oz) water (less water for thicker porridge)
    — 1 can coconut milk
    — sugar (as much as you want)
    — toasted sesame rice cracker (as much as you want)
    Soak the mung bean overnight to soften it. In a pot, cook rice, mung bean and water until the grains turn mushy. Add coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Serve warm with toasted rice crackers.

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