Friday, August 31, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Cooking with Bean Sprouts

These days, all sorts of sprouts are popular, but I still love bean sprouts the best. They're hearty enough to stand up to cooking without disappearing completely, and they're crisp and crunchy in salad. You can grow your own or buy them.

And then what do you do with them?

Second is a simple side dish, but first is a main dish that wouldn't be the same without bean sprouts - egg foo yung.

This egg foo yung is an all-vegetable version (and all fresh vegetables), but you could add shrimp, pork, beef - whatever you like. While the patties are fine right out of the pan, I like them best with gravy. It also makes cooking and serving a little easier. As the patties are cooked, they go into the lightly simmering sauce which flavors them and keeps them warm for serving.

Of course, I serve egg foo yung with rice.

One of the main flavors in the sauce is soy sauce, which of course is salty. So it's a really good idea to use a low-sodium or no-sodium broth. That way, if you want to add more soy flavor, you won't end up creating a salt lick.

To compensate for the fact that the sauce is a bit salty, I held back on the salt in the egg foo yung itself. The patties need a little salt or they'll be a little too bland, but you don't want to get carried away.

These also reheat well. Just warm them gently in the sauce.

First, make the sauce. You can leave it simmering lightly while you make the egg foo yung patties.

Egg Foo Yung Sauce

1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons 5-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of garlic powder

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and whisk well to break up the cornstarch. Heat to a boil, stirring as needed. Because of the cornstarch, this will thicken a bit, but it won't be crazy thick.

Lower to a simmer while you make the egg foo yung.

Egg Foo Yung

1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large rib of bok choy, thinly sliced
1 rib of celery, thinly sliced
1 cup julienned mushrooms
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Vegetable oil, for cooking

In a medium bowl, combine the bean sprouts, scallions, bok choy, celery, and mushrooms. Sprinkle on the salt, then the flour. Stir to coat the vegetables with the flour.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add the sesame oil, and beat lightly to break up the eggs. Add the egg to the vegetables and stir to combine.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Scoop up about a half cup of the vegetable mixture and add it to the pan. Flatten it  a bit. Add as many more scoops as will fit comfortably in the pan. Cook until the patties are browned on one side, then flip them over and cook until browned on the other side.

When the patties are browned on both sides, slide them into the sauce and let them simmer there as you continue making more patties until all the mix is used up.

Serve over rice and pass extra sauce at the table.

Bean Sprouts with Vegetables

Here's a side dish where the bean sprouts are prominent. They're added at the very end of cooking so they stay a little bit crisp.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 stalks bok choy, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into half-moons
6 green onions, sliced on a diagonal
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Several grinds black pepper
2 cups bean sprouts

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mushrooms and bok choy and cook, stirring as needed, until the liquid is released from the mushrooms and evaporates again.

Add the yellow squash and green onions and cook for a  minute or so, until the squash softens just a little. Add the soy sauce and black pepper and stir.

Add the bean sprouts and stir just until it's mixed well, then take it off the heat and serve.

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