Wednesday, 17 December 2008


When I mention bean sprouts in my recipes, I am usually referring to MUNG BEAN sprouts (see explanation below). They are usually sold simply as ‘bean sprouts’ and are known as ‘dòu yá’ in Chinese and ‘taugeh’ in Malay/Indonesian.

In most parts of Asia, bean sprouts are stir fried as a vegetable accompaniment to a meal, usually with ingredients such as garlic, ginger, spring onions, or pieces of salted dried fish to add flavour. Uncooked bean sprouts and/or cellophane noodles (see explanation below) are used in filling for Vietnamese spring rolls, as well as a garnish for phở (noodles in broth). They are a major ingredient in a variety of Malaysian and Peranakan cuisine including Char Kuey Teow, Hokkien mee and Prawn Fritters.

Sprouts are reputed to help your digestion, immune system and improve your general wellbeing and health. Sprouted seeds are little powerhouses of vitamins packed with the live enzymes that make digesting them easy. They are alkaline so particularly help someone who is too acidic in their body or toxic e.g. a person who feels rough from eating too much junk food.Bean sprouts use to attract a bit of prejudice – in the west, it is thought that only hippies and vegetarians eat them – no disrespect meant here. In Malaysia, it is considered poor man’s food – a veg that you cook when you can’t afford the more expensive vegetables because the price of bean sprouts is dirt cheap there. You can buy a kilo of sprouts for half the price you pay here for a 250 g packet here! Go figure.

However now, it is categorised as a ‘super food’ and part of a healthy living regime. So if you have not tried sprouts before, I hope that after reading this, you will. Check out my easy stir fried bean sprouts (click on the recipe) and don’t forget to include it the next time you stir fry some noodles or fried rice.

If you want to grow your own bean sprouts, here is how you do it:

Soak 2 tablespoons of mung beans in water overnight in a larger jar. Rinse.

Cover the opening of the jar with a clear nylon stocking and secure with a rubber band.

Leave it in a sunny (not hot) position for four to five hours and then transfer the jar to a dark place.

Rinse the seed well with water each morning and afternoon for 2—5 days and repeat the preceeding process .

Sprouts are ready to eat with the sprouts are twice or thrice as long as the original seed. You may choose to let them grow longer.

Cover the lid of the jar and place in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.

Mung bean is also known as green bean or moong bean. It is a seed that is native to India. The split bean is known as moong dhal, which is green with the husk, and yellow when de-husked. The bean is popular in Indian cuisine and is usually used to make a sweet dessert in Malaysia.

Mung bean starch, which is extracted from ground mung beans, is used to make transparent cellophane noodles (also known as bean thread noodles, bean threads, glass noodles, fen si, tung hoon, miến, bún tàu, or bún tào). Cellophane noodles become soft and slippery when they are soaked in hot water. I also use them to make VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS.


Usha said...

Very informative, I agree that they are powerhouses of nutrients...I only wish we used them as much as we should :-)

VG said...

Agreed. I love them but because it is not sold here 'tailed', I tend to skip them and choose easier veg. I can't stand their long 'tails' !