Spicy Korean Mung Bean Sprout Salad

ssproutsaladI would have immensely enjoyed sharing with you my very recent memories of the fantastic lamb roast I made during Easter holidays… Unfortunately, no matter how much I tried, there was no way I could make it look less disgusting, not to mention attractive, so maybe some other day… In the meantime, I would like to talk about one of the most delicious things I have ever made with mung bean sprouts. This salad might not look like the most exciting dish in the world, but at least it bears some resemblance to its main ingredient, the thing I couldn’t have said about my poor roast…

I like and eat mung bean sprouts for several reasons. First of all  they are one of those products always grown indoors and, as such, have no real season, so I can enjoy them throughout the year. Moreover, they are one of my favourite light and healthy “fillers” in spring rolls, filo rolls, stir fries, noodles and various mixed salads. I have recently discovered thanks to Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s mild sprout salad they are also delicious as the main ingredient of a cold side-dish. This fiery, but otherwise very similar salad also comes from Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s Growing Up in A Korean Kitchen, a fascinating and very personal cookery book.

As usually, I have proceeded to some modifications. First of all, this recipe is designed for soybean sprouts, which are much more difficult to find for me, but luckily quite similar in texture to mung bean sprouts. Unlike the author, I didn’t boil the sprouts for two minutes, but only blanched them for about 30 seconds because I wanted them to remain more crisp. I have also slightly modified the amounts and the way of using spring onion, so check Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen to read the original recipe.


Do not forget to wash thoroughly mung bean or soybean sprouts before eating, just like you would proceed with any other vegetable. Apparently, recent serious intoxications some of you have probably read about might have been avoided by a simple thorough washing process, but many people considered this clean-looking product not worth the effort…

If you have never used sesame oil, I advise buying it in a Japanese or Korean shop (or maybe simply Asian). The only time I bought a bottle of good quality, cold-pressed organic sesame oil made in Europe I discovered something I dislike so much I still wonder how to use it (and it wasn’t rancid). I think Asian sesame oil is made from roasted, not raw, sesame seeds.

This salad is apparently served both at room temperature and very cold. I prefer it cold, so I have quickly rinsed the blanched sprouts in very cold water. If you want to serve it at room temperature, skip this step.

I would define Korean chilli powder as medium hot (it is not as hot as for example the powder used in Indian cuisine). It is slightly sweet in taste and its texture is flaky, so it’s often called “chilli flakes” instead of “powder”. If you use very hot chilli powder, cut it with mild chilli powder.

The author suggests either chilli threads or chilli powder here. Since I only had the latter, I have no idea what the taste difference will be, but chilli threads will certainly be more beautiful.

Preparation: about 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

150 g soybean or mung bean sprouts

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 small clove garlic, grated or crushed

freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon Korean chilli powder (flakes)

1 green onion stalk, chopped and separated into the white part and green part (you can also use chives if you don’t have spring onions)

You don’t need to do this, but try trimming the ends of sprouts. It does make a difference.

Wash the sprouts thoroughly.

Blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately rinse them with very cold water. Drain.

Combine the sprouts, the sesame oil, the garlic, the black pepper, the white part of the green onion and the soy sauce.

Put into a serving bowl.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, the chilli powder and green part of the spring onion.

19 Replies to “Spicy Korean Mung Bean Sprout Salad”

  1. Looks good Sissi! Simple, elegant and quick! Most of time I trim the end of sprouts…not enjoyable task but I do this while watching Korean drama.

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. If you trim the sprouts for a Korean dish while watching a Korean drama… it must be much more enjoyable indeed!

  2. When I was much younger I didn’t like vinegary salad dressings/preparations but I’ve grown to enjoy them over the years. I try to buy bean sprouts that are as fresh as possible which means they have the remnants of the bean on the end but I find they usually drop off during washing so I don’t spend much more time trimming than I have to. 🙂

  3. Oh Sissi, this is one of the side dishes that I love when going to Korean restaurant…and the nice thing is that they keep bringing to you until you are totally content…yours look delicious…I yet have to try to make this at home…thanks for the recipe…
    Hope you are enjoying your week 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Juliana.This is very easy and quick, so I hope you’ll try it at home too.

  4. Bean sprouts really are a great filler – I love them in sandwiches as well as salads. I never thought about the seasonality of the mung sprout but you’re right, it makes it so much more accessible. The texture is what I find most pleasing – so fresh and often juicy – it always surprises and delights me — especially when they are at their prime. Your sesame-soy dressing sounds right up my alley too. Lovely Sissi. I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! xx

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I’m glad you also like bean sprouts. I also hope you’ve had a wonderful Easter!

  5. You’re right – most of us use bean sprouts strictly as a filler. I would never have thought to use them as THE ingredient for a salad. I can see serving this as a side to an Asian grilled chicken that we do in the warmer months. Oh and a “good” sesame oil as you mentioned is a necessity. I, too, have purchased a dull and boring sesame oil before, by the Asian style is the absolutely opposite. Nothing dull about a really good toasted sesame seed oil. Great salad Sissi!

    1. Hi, MJ. If I hadn’t seen the two Korean recipes I wouldn’t probably have this simple idea either. They are really delicious on their own too. Isn’t the toasted sesame oil delicious??? For me it’s like a completely different product! Thank you for the compliments.

  6. I am not a huge fan of sprouts for the reasons you indicated above but I do like the flavours in your salad very much. This would be lovely tossed with some rice noodles as a very light lunch or dinner.

  7. Delicious!!! I am a big fan of bean sprout and if a recipe calls for some bean sprout, the rest goes to this kind of Korean or Japanese style bean sprouts. SO good! It tastes and sounds tasty when you eat. 🙂 Not to mention, it’s quick and easy to make! Great recipe, Sissi!

  8. Mung bean sprouts are a staple here! It’s the cheapest form of protein, so growing up it was a running joke when my Mum cooked bean sprouts for dinner– “run out of budget for the food???”. I love its crunchiness and use it a lot in stir fries and salads, will try yours soon enough Sissi! x

    1. Thank you so much, Shu Han. Here bean sprouts are very cheap too (a big package is less than a bus ticket…), so I enjoy them very often. I never think of them as protein. One more reason to love them.

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