Thai bean sprout salad

This light and refreshing salad makes an interesting side to a stir-fry or curry.

A Palatable Pastime
This quick salad works as a fun side for Asian-inspired dishes.

I have always loved the crunch of bean sprouts, especially in Vietnamese cooking, when I can drop them into my steaming bowl of pho or stir them into a bun noodle salad. I also enjoy the flavor they impart to fried rice dishes, although not too many restaurants do that anymore, having simplified their recipes quite a bit. Part of the reason for that might be the very limited shelf life of fresh bean sprouts. When I use them, I try to buy them the same day so I don’t open my fridge to sprouts that have withered.

As a salad, this is quite light, and the sriracha does not add an overwhelming amount of spice. Some, yes. But I will warn about the type of chilies I used in my garnish. I used Thai bird chiles, and they can be quite fiery, depending on the season and growing conditions, and I love that since I love spicy food. But if I were to serve to a group, I might not add those, using instead a mild pepper such as minced red and green bell pepper for garnish, rather than omitting it altogether, since the peppers do add a touch of flavor on their own. But you can make your own choice on what to add there.

This is not a dish that can be prepared much in advance, because the sprouts will wilt and lose the crunchiness which you want. In that same vein, I would not use canned bean sprouts or packaged sprouts that show any amount of liquid pooling in the bottom (sprouts have a high water content and this comes out as they wilt). So choose your sprouts carefully. I will not buy one unless I can snap it in my fingers like a twig.

As far as prep, the salad comes together quick and is easy work. I toss with my hands so as not to break too many of the sprouts, but you can try to do it with forks or spoons if you are concerned about the peppers in the dressing. Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, or you could opt to wear gloves when handling, as food service professionals do.

Thai bean sprout salad
Serves 2-4

8 ounces very fresh bean sprouts
2 scallions, shredded
1/4 cup shredded fresh carrots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 sliced Thai bird chilies  or 2 tablespoons chopped bell pepper (for garnish)Dressing2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey

Place salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together ingredients for the dressing and gently toss with the salad. Serve at once.

Related post on A Palatable Pastime: Honey Sriracha Sesame Noodles

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