Go to any authentic Korean restaurant and you will likely be greeted with a glorious assortment of side dishes of seasoned and pickled vegetables (called bahn chahn). The assortment will vary depending on the restaurant and season, but wherever and whenever you go, chances are good that you will receive a dish of seasoned bean sprouts (called Sook Joo Na Mool or Kohng Na Mool).
Soy or mung beans that have been sprouted are incredibly good for you. They’re easy to digest, and offer solid amounts of five B vitamins and vitamin C. They’re also naturally abundant in iron, and provide a modest but significant amount of healthy protein. And did I mention that seasoned bean sprouts are delightfully light, crunchy, and flavourful?
Here’s a look at how simple it is to make your own bean sprout salad:
Bean sprouts (soy or mung) – one pound (about 450 grams)
Chopped green onions – about one tablespoon
Minced garlic – one to two teaspoons, to taste
Toasted sesame seeds – half a tablespoon
Sea salt, to taste
Start with the best quality bean sprouts you can find. Korean grocery stores typically stock fresh bean sprouts daily given the amount that Koreans consume.
If you have time, you can pinch the tiny tails off the ends of your bean sprouts – it’s really a matter of personal preference. Some Koreans get a little crazy when they see their bean sprouts with tails intact, please don’t ask me why – here’s a closeup so that you can decide for yourself if the tails need to go.
Once you’ve decided on the tail issue, give your sprouts a good rinse under cold water, then give them a minute or two to drain.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add your bean sprouts and cook for no more than 3 minutes. The goal is to make the sprouts somewhat tender while retaining some crunchiness – feel free to taste-test as you go, though be warned that when unseasoned, bean sprouts don’t provide a mouthful of flavour.
Once desired texture is reached, rescue your sprouts from that boiling water and let them cool off while sitting in a large colander or strainer. Here’s a look at the sprouts right after they’ve been brought to the right texture:
Now the easy part – add all of your seasonings. A tablespoon of chopped green onions, about half a tablespoon of minced garlic, half a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt, to taste.
Give everything a gentle toss for even distribution, and there you have it, an authentic Korean Bean Sprout Salad.
The thing is, you can add additional ingredients to change the character of this salad. For example, half a tablespoon of chili powder is a great addition for people who enjoy a bit of heat. Or if you want some umami-type savoriness, you can add a drizzle of sesame oil before tossing, but if you add sesame oil, please note that it’s best not to store leftovers, as sesame oil will accelerate degradation of nutrient content.
Koreans typically enjoy this bean sprouts salad as one of a few side dishes that accompany bowls of rice and soup, and often some fish, beef, or pork on the side. But feel free to get a little wild and enjoy a mountain of seasoned bean sprouts with some avocado slices and a steamed yam on the side – this is just what I had with the batch that you see in the photos above, and I don’t think I’ve had a better meal this year.
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Korean Bean Sprouts Salad Recipe