The young, tender sprouts of germinated beans, beansprouts are nutritious, white and crunchy. Mung beansprouts, also known as Chinese beansprouts, are the most common variety and have a delicate flavour. They are short and stubby with a little green ‘head’; soya beansprouts are longer and fatter with a yellow tip. Alfalfa, aduki, chickpea and lentil sprouts can be used in the same way as mung and soya.
Buy crisp, pale sprouts that look firm and fresh. Avoid any that look limp, brown or slimy. Beansprouts are also available canned. Rinse them well before use.
Beansprouts have a high water content, so they only keep for a very short time in the refrigerator before they start to turn limp and mushy. They are best used within a day of purchase. Unsuitable for freezing.
Steam or stir-fry beansprouts, or add them to mixed salads and sandwiches. Pinch off the wispy brown ‘tail’ if desired. Be careful not to over-cook them, however, as they quickly become soggy.