One of the most common vegetables in Malaysia is the humble mung bean sprout known as nga choy in Cantonese and tau geh in Hokkien. The latter has since been inducted into the Malay language. Bean sprouts are very inexpensive and easily available. Malaysians love their taugeh and this ubiquitous vegetable is found in fried noodles, soupy noodles, kerabu, or stir-fry dishes. Its cousin the soybean sprout though bigger, firmer, and crunchier is no match for it. Bigger and better does not equal greater popularity but the soybean sprout does have its followers.
I enjoy both kinds of sprouts and the good news is that bean sprouts also very inexpensive and easily available here. Whenever I go to the Asian grocery store, I buy a bag each of mung bean sprouts and soybean sprouts. When buying sprouts, choose plump and white sprouts. They should be cooked as soon as possible as they only last a day or two in the refrigerator.
I do trim my mung bean and soybean sprouts. It is not as impossible or as crazy as it sounds. When the sprouts are nice and plump, they can be done quite quickly. I remember way back when I was a kid, probably my first kitchen task was trimming bean sprouts. Talk about child labor, huh? We used to have huge family gatherings and a few people were given the task of trimming bean sprouts. Actually it wasn’t bad at all. We chatted and laugh while we worked. Much better than sweating it out over the stove.
In Malaysia, mung bean sprouts are usually stir-fried with salted fish when cooked as a side dish while soybean sprouts are chopped and cooked with minced pork. Shrimps are also a good choice as they cook quickly. Mung bean sprouts should be added at the end and cooked for no more than 30 seconds. Soybean sprouts are a little hardier and may stay in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes.
Frying bean sprouts with shrimps and chilies is pretty classic. I added sweet potatoes noodles to bulk up this Soybean Sprouts and Shrimp Stir-fry. The green onions are to give it an additional pop of color. Sometimes I use Chinese chives instead. For a vegan version, check out Soybean Sprouts and Dried Tofu Stir-fry.
- 2 oz (55g) sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon)
- 4 oz (115g) shrimps, peeled and deveined
- 1 red chili, seeded and finely sliced
- 1 lb (450g) soybean sprouts, trimmed
- 3 green onions, sliced into 2-inch lengths
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp canola oil
Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add sweet potato noodles. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil and set aside.
In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add garlic fry until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimps followed by red chilies and bean sprout. Stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce and salt. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Return sweet potato noodles to the pan. Stir to mix.
Finally, add green onions. Continue to stir to get everything well mixed.
Remove and serve immediately.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!