I don’t know that many people who like bean sprouts. Asians buy them regularly to add to soups and to green salads. They spell b-o-r-e-d-o-m to some, and their taste doesn’t tingle the taste buds. But there’s one way to enjoy bean sprouts and that’s to dress them up with meat or shrimp with a handful of other crisp greens. The trick is to saute them but not to the point that they start to wilt and get soggy.
I also remember bean sprouts stuffed into egg rolls – we called them "lumpiang togue" back home and we used to douse them in spicy vinegar. Heavenly taste! I’d have a hard time getting any of my North American friends to enjoy it so I don’t really serve them to invited guests for dinner. They would accuse me of serving rabbit food, or insulting their culinary sensibilities or something absurd like that, and that I’m sure would ruin my reputation.
Food has a way of making or breaking friendships. One upon a time I gave one of my French Canadian friends a box of six steamed buns, thinking she would enjoy them with gusto. A few weeks later, after I had not heard anything from her, I had to ask her if she liked them. Her face turned red and she confessed that she spit them out so violently and threw the whole box away. She said the taste and appearance of the inside of the bun were revolting. Oh dear, never again…
The lady is still my friend although that incident haunts me every now and then. The only time we break bread together is to have scrambled eggs for breakfast when we meet twice a year four our birthdays. I guess there are people who don’t like to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to food. I wonder if she’ll drop me like a hot potato if I served her the dish above.
Anyway, if you do care to venture into bean sprouts, here’s the recipe:
1 supermarket bag of bean sprouts (maybe 1-2 pounds)
1 cup shrimps (medium size)
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp onions, chopped
1 tbsp of garlic (I dare you to put more!)
2 tbsp canola oil
4-5 tbsp of soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the bean sprouts thoroughly in cold running water. Set aside.
2. Heat some oil and saute your onions and garlic – about a minute.
3. Add your green and red bell peppers. Continue to saute until soft but not soggy.
4. Add your shrimps.
5. When shrimps are cooked (be careful not to overcook the shrimps), add your bean sprouts, lowering the heat. Mix the bean sprouts with the ingredients vigorously – about 1-2 minutes. Make sure they still have their crunch. Once they get soft and have shed off lots of water, I’m afraid you’ve overdone it!
6. Flavor with the soy sauce and salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Note: a cup of fresh bean sprouts contains 31 calories. They’re low in fat and cholesterol. They’re very high in riboflavin and manganese.