Commonly used in China and India, mung bean sprouts add a juicy crunch to many Asian dishes such as stir fries, soups and eggrolls. They are easy to incorporate into vegetarian or meat-based recipes.
What Are Mung Bean Sprouts?
Mung bean sprouts are edible plump silvery-white shoots with two small yellow leaves at one end, a result of germinating mung beans. Though many types of beans are sprouted for culinary uses, the mung is one of the more popular. They are crispy and a little nutty-tasting, with high water content, and are good for both cooked or raw applications. However, due to the possibility of certain foodborne illnesses, it's usually advised to lightly cook the sprouts to reduce any risk, especially for pregnant women, children, and the elderly.
The mung bean plant, belonging to the Fabaceae or legume family, has been cultivated since ancient times and is a staple of Asian cuisine thanks to its versatility and nutritional properties. Their year-round availability and reasonable pricing make it easy to incorporate into many recipes from Asian to Indian, rice to noodles.
How To Use Mung Bean Sprouts?
Unlike other sprouts that are more delicate, like the familiar alfalfa, mung bean sprouts hold up better when stir-fried or added to hot soups—though take care not to cook longer than 30 seconds to 1 minute so they maintain some crunch. Lightly rinse the sprouts with cool water before using, then dry them before adding to stir-fried dishes. The sprouts pair well with aromatics such as ginger and garlic, seasonings like soy sauce and sesame oil, and grains including rice and noodles.
What Do They Taste Like?
With a mild, clean, vegetal taste, mung bean sprouts won't overwhelm the dish. They tend to absorb the flavors they're surrounded by. Mainly, the sprouts add a crunchy, juicy texture.
- Korean Bean Sprout Salad
- Stir-Fry Beef with Mung Bean Sprouts
- Mongolian Chicken with Mung Bean Sprouts
Where To Buy Mung Bean Sprouts?
Mung bean sprouts can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores and all Asian markets, often near the tofu. Health food stores are another popular place to find them. They come pre-packaged or loose in bins to purchase by the pound. When selecting mung bean sprouts, look for plump, white roots and avoid any that are stringy, discolored, slimy or give off a moldy odor. The tiny leaves should be yellow and light green. Canned bean sprouts, located in the Asian food aisle, are a poor substitute in texture and flavor.
Mung bean sprouts are very perishable. Do not wash the sprouts until ready to use. If using within a few days of purchase, store in the refrigerator loosely packed in a resealable plastic bag covered with a paper towel to absorb any moisture. If you need to keep them around for up to 5 days or so, put them in a lidded container, cover them with water, and refrigerate. Be sure to change the water every day.
Nutrition and Benefits
One cup of bean sprouts contains about 30 calories. They are low in fat, high in fiber and protein. Being one of the more nutritionally dense foods, they are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins such as K and C, enzymes, folate and fiber. They are low in salicylate, a naturally occurring chemical in plants that some individuals have difficulty tolerating. (Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid). In Chinese medicine, bean sprouts are considered to be a yin or cooling food and to help eliminate toxins.