Mung bean flour is a very finely grained starch derived from the mung bean, more formally known as Vigna radiata. This flour is used in the cuisines of China, India, and Japan, among other Asian nations, in a variety of foods. Asian markets and Indian grocers often carry this flour, which comes in a variety of colors, depending on how much it has been processed. It is also possible to order it through specialty importers.
One of the most well known uses for mung bean flour is in so-called “glass noodles,” very fine noodles made with a highly refined form of the flour. When raw, these noodles are almost transparent, and they turn completely transparent when cooked, hence their name. Mung bean flour is also used in blends of flours to make various forms of pasta, and it is utilized in sweets and pastries; mung bean paste is often used as a filling for dumplings, for example.
One of the major advantages to mung bean flour is that it is gluten free. Whether used alone or with other gluten free flours, it can be used to create a variety of doughs that can be used to make noodles, pastries, and other foods which would normally require wheat flour. Gluten free bakers and cooks may have to experiment a bit to find the best ratio of flours for successful gluten free cooking; many Asian cookbooks are a good resource to look for flour ratios.
In addition to being gluten free, mung bean flour is also nutritionally beneficial. It is high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, among other useful dietary minerals, making it a reasonably nutritious addition to the diet. It is also easy to make at home, if a cook has a high quality food processor or a flour mill; in areas where this flour is hard to find, people may be able to obtain dried mung beans that can be ground into flour.
People may also seen mung bean flour called “green pea flour,” in a reference to the fact that the mung bean plant is in the pea family. If a recipe calls for this flour and it is not available, cooks can try using arrowroot or cornflour, both of which are typically available at natural food stores. If the flour turns pink or green after it gets it wet, there is no cause for concern; the color is a natural impurity that appears in less refined forms of the flour.