When my coworker Russ inquired about the possibility of writing a piece about fried mung beans for Nate's Plate, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I pictured a pan on his stove with steaming off-white refried beans bubbling away, stinking up his house. Boy was I wrong. Fried mung beans are actually hard (I guess they're just fried once) and dark green-brown in color.
I had the privilege of sampling Russ's Famous Fried Mung Beans before his review was completed, so I decided I'd write my own. I was drafting a corporate spam e-missive and an email from Russ appeared in my inbox: "Mung beans are at my desk. Drop by and sample the goodness." It was an offer I couldn't refuse.
I walked across the office and there were the little guys on his desk, hanging out in a jar of Mrs. Renfro's "Smoky" Roasted Salsa. The beans weren't the fried mess I expected at all. They were hard and looked rather insect-like. The ones without their shells looked like Honey Smacks cereal. Most importantly, FRIED MUNG BEANS ARE DAMN GOOD.
Fried mung beans are not a side dish for a meal, as I had expected. They're a salty, crunchy, kinda-burnt-tasting treat. They're a wholly addictive snack that leaves the slightest amount of oily residue in your palm.
The fact they they were stored in an old salsa jar only made them better. It added some southwest pizzaz that delicately flirted with my taste buds. When removed from the jar, the beans smell rather neutral, which is good since Russ reported that they stink terribly when being prepared.
As the jar emptied, I already found myself hoping that there are more fried mung beans on their way to the office. I'd buy a bag of these at the party store, and that's high praise. I suppose I could do that, since Beer Nuts already exist.
And don't take it from me. Take it from Eric, a.k.a. Pep-Pep. After sampling some fried mung beans, this is what he said:
"Holy crap those are good ... Those are REALLY good ... Those are one of the best snacks I've ever had."
The people have spoken. Fry on, Russ!