Friday, May 30, 2008

Mung Bean Cookies/Leh Tou Koh

These are mung bean cookie moulds from a well known food blog called "Roses' Kitchen". Not many Foochow housewives have them. A Foochow housewife who can make mung bean cookies often become the envy of the other housewives because it is an extremely tedious, difficult and dainty job.

These are green or mung beans and are used to make mung bean flour.

This photo was taken a few months after the Chinese New Year 2008. I "preserved" these mung bean cookies (at RM22 per jar) for my two daughters who are working outside Sarawak. The background is the book cover of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis and Other Stories". The green of the cover highlight the beauty of the mung bean cookies .

Here's my tale of mung beans cookies :

I think i have two left feet - so I cannot dance like other girls. I have butter fingers - so I am not at all good with so many household chores. But I do admire those who are very skilful in making of small dainty Hokkien cakes like green bean cookies, which require the frying of the mung beans in a dry kuali and the careful shaking of the cookies from their moulds. Later when these cookies are dried in the sun, the cookie maker has to watch over the sun drying very carefully, otherwise any accident can occur. I suppose I am never meant to make these cookies.

But I have a lovely tale to retell .

My Indonesian grand aunt told me this story a long time ago, as she thought I must be given this story to be motivated and initiated into an aggressive world. She wanted to bless me with the tale so that I won't give up life as a girl.

In Indonesia there were two girls , Kim Neo and Gin Neo,who were well sought after for marriage because they were so beautiful. The eldest, Kim Neo, was married to a good family and she was well accepted and blessed by a lot of wealth and children.

The second daughter , Gin Neo, was married into a big family but she was not so blessed because the family had many other daughters-in-law who were just as beautiful and just a skilled.

One day, during Chinese New Year,Gin Neo's family had a competition to select the best mung bean cookies. The daughter in law or daughter who made the best one would be given a gold bracelet. The price was high. However mung bean cookies was the only cookie that Gin Neo could not make because she had big hands unknown to many.

So she did all the preparation and she was not successful in making the nice patterns on the cookies as this was quite skilful. But surprisingly, in the very chauvinistic society, Gin Neo's husband, who truly loved her, woke up in the middle of the night to redo all the cookies for her. Early in the morning, Gin Neo woke up to find that her cookies were perfect and she took the almost perfect cookies out to dry in the sun deck to the surprise of her sisters-in-law and mother-in-law.

By then, the mother-in-law realised that her second son truly loved his wife Gin Neo and she was very proud of him. So she kept the secret. In fact, she suddenly remembered that her second son had always hovered around her whenever she made mung bean cookies and in fact she had allowed him to help her make her cookies all those years ago. No one knew about this as the making ofmung bean cookies was a very secretive and individual work.

Gin Neo was given the gold bracelet but because she was so good natured, after she gave birth to a boy, she secretly gave the gold bracelet to her mother in law as a token of appreciation.

Many years later, when Gin Neo and her husband had to leave Indonesia for a better future elsewhere, they brought only the moulds of the mung bean cookies and other cookies. Thus,they survived the upheavals of Indonesia's early history and had a very good and fortunate family life.

This little story reminds us that in a marriage, the husband must always cherish his wife and keep his vows and the heavens will bless the family until eternity.

Do you have a green bean story to tell?

3 memories:

Gaharuman said...


I think it is mung bean rather than green bean. If I remember correctly, I did point this out some time ago.

Sarawakiana said...

Yes. Thanks. I know the beans as mung beans. but unfortunately these cookies are leh tou goh...somehow the green bean cookies as a name stick. Any way to change this?

How would you call them?

thanks again.

Free Bird said...

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Its unique. I remember when SARS brokeout, there was a rumour that if you ate green beans, you'll avoid getting SARS.

If only i could find the email that had the title "Green Beans to avoid SARS" I couldn't help chuckling to myself about it.

All the beans in the market was sold out

Fascinating. I love the taste of the Leh Tou Koh, especially when it melts in your mouth.


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