What are Mung Beans? Do They Have Any Other Names?

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what are mung beans

Have you seen mung beans in the grocery store and wondered what are mung beans? If so, we are here to help you fill in the blanks. In this article, we will explain: 

  • What mung beans are.
  • What mung beans are called by scientists.
  • What other names are used for mung beans?
  • What mung bean sprouts are.
  • What mung bean noodles are.

Let’s dive right in.

What are Mung Beans?

Mung beans are a member of the legume family that originated in India. They are mainly cultivated in Asia but are also highly valued in South America, Africa, and Australia. Mung beans are green in color and resemble a mix between soybeans and capers. They have a clean vegetable flavor but also taste slightly earthy. When cooked in a dish, mung beans take on the other flavors that are surrounding it.

Mung Bean Uses

Protein-rich and highly nutritious, they provide an excellent way to boost the food value of a wide array of dishes. Mung beans are equally at home in savory and sweet dishes and are the basis of many desserts in the East. 

Mung beans are generally eaten fresh, prepared from dried beans, or added to soups. Other forms you can purchase mung beans in include:

  • Pasta
  • Paste
  • Flour
  • Noodles

In addition, mung beans are the source of the majority of bean sprouts produced globally. 

Where to Find Mung Beans

Mung beans are growing in popularity, and many grocery stores now carry them. If you have trouble finding mung beans, your local health food store or Asian market would be good places to look. 

Mung beans, in stores, will most often be dried whole or with the kernels split. Many times companies will mill the beans to make them crack more uniformly. The milling process removes much of the bean’s outer husk and lowers its nutritional value. When possible, buy whole mung beans.

What’s the Scientific Name for Mung Beans?

The scientific name for mung beans is Vigna radiata. They were once known as Phaseolus aureus. This was before botanists shifted many of the Phaseolus species to the Vigna genus in the 1970s. Despite the similarity of the names, mung beans are unrelated to Vigna mungo, commonly called black gram.

Other Names for Mung Beans in Different Languages

As one of the world’s most commonly eaten legumes, Mung beans are known by many different names in many different cultures. In English alone, they may be referred to as:

  • Celera bean
  • Golden gram
  • Green gram
  • Jerusalem pea
  • Moong bean
  • Mung bean
  • Mungbean

In France, they are called ambérique verte, or haricot mungo

In Spanish, mungo beans are named poroto chino, frijol mungo, and judía mungo, depending on the country. 

The Portuguese make mungo beans sound spectacular. Feijão-da-china and feijão-mungo are the names they most frequently use.

If you want to buy mung beans in Germany, ask for mungbohne or jerusalembohne.

In Italian mung beans are fagiolo indiano verde, fagiolo mungo verde.

Across Asia and the Pacific, the list of names for mung beans is almost endless. The Philippines alone has over 70 dialects, and mung beans have a different name in nearly all of them. China has several hundred languages and literally thousands of dialects. 

What Are Mung Bean Sprouts?

Mung bean sprouts are tender baby bean plants (7-10 days old). They have silvery white stalks with two tiny yellow leaves at the top. Delicious, both cooked and raw, mung bean sprouts have a gentle nutty flavor and crunchy texture.

Other types of beans are used to produce bean sprouts, but mung bean sprouts are by far the most common. 15-20 million pounds are consumed by Americans each year. 

What Are Mung Bean Noodles?

Mung bean noodles are also known as bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and bean vermicelli. They are a popular non-flour noodle used in Chinese cuisine. 

Mung bean noodles are created from only two ingredients; mung bean starch and water. Though they look glassy and insubstantial, mung bean noodles are considered superior to potato noodles because they hold their form better and are very high in iron.