Korean Bean Sprout Salad (Kongnamul Muchim)
Bean sprout salad is one of the many healthy Korean side dishes (banchan) made with soybean sprouts. Known as kongnamul muchim, this easy side dish can be prepared in just 10 minutes. It features a crunchy texture and nutty flavor, making it the perfect accompaniment to any Korean or Asian meal.
Kongnamul muchim (콩나물 무침) is the name of this bean sprout salad in Korean and is considered the one of the most popular Korean side dishes. It is even known as the “national side dish of Korea (gukmin banchan, 국민반찬)”, along with Korean spinach side dish, because it is consumed at least once a week in every household.
While there are several versions of bean sprout side dishes in Korean cuisine, this one is made with soybean sprouts. For a different twist on bean sprouts, you can try my mung bean spouts salad made with spinach.
In fact, some people even grow their own soybean sprouts at home for convenience. Regardless of how you obtain them, soybean sprouts are an inexpensive and delicious ingredient. The Korean people never tire of making this dish with soybean sprouts.
Health Benefits of Bean Sprouts
Bean sprouts, including soybean sprouts, are a nutritious ingredient commonly used in Asian cuisine. They’re a good source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote health, such as vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and potassium.
Bean sprouts are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain no cholesterol, making them ideal for weight management and digestive health. Additionally, they may help regulate blood sugar levels, boost immune function, and provide protection against chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Soybean sprouts are a popular ingredient in Korean cuisine, known for their crunchy texture and nutty flavor. While they can be eaten raw, they are commonly cooked in Korea.
There are two main types of Korean soybean sprout salad: a mild nutty soybean sprout recipe and a spicy version that adds Korean chili flakes to the salad. If you’re looking for a bit of heat, you can check out my spicy soybean sprout salad recipe.
Whether you prefer mild or spicy, this bean sprout salad is easy to make and incredibly delicious. It’s also a great base for making Bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl with vegetables.
Recipe Tips and Advice
To remove or not to remove the tail part of soybean sprouts?
It is a very personal choice. While some Korean cooking purists may recommend it to create a more visually appealing salad, most people don’t bother with the extra step. Personally, I don’t remove the tails either.
Use very little water to cook
Commonly, soybean sprouts are cooked in a pot of boiling water, but this method may cause the loss of both nutritional value and flavor.
To prevent this, I recommended using only a small amount of water, around 4 tablespoons, when cooking soybean sprouts. This is because the sprouts release moisture during cooking, and this natural liquid is sufficient to cook them.
By using minimal water, you can retain the sprouts’ nutritional value and enhance their natural flavor.
Do not rinse after cooking the sprouts
Unlike in other cuisines, we don’t rinse cooked bean sprouts in Korean cuisine. To ensure optimal flavor and texture, it’s important not to overcook the sprouts.
The retained heat in the sprouts will continue to cook them further, so it’s best to remove them from heat just before they’re fully cooked. Simply drain them after cooking. This way, the sprouts will maintain their natural flavor and texture.
- Soybean sprouts with or without the tail part
- Garlic, finely minced for added flavor
- Green onion, which adds a savory touch
- Sesame oil, which provides a nutty aroma and fragrance
- Toasted sesame seeds, always use toasted for the best flavor
- Korean soup soy sauce, which is different from regular soy sauce
- Salt, as needed to enhance the taste
- Water, only 4 tablespoons are necessary
How to make bean sprout salad (kongnamul muchim)
Step 1. Add little water
Put sprouts in a pot and pour in 4 tablespoon of water.
Step 2. Steam
Close the lid tightly and let the sprouts cook over medium heat for 6 minutes. Do not open the lid. If you have a glass lid, you will see the steamed water drips down under the lid.
Step 3. Toss in a pot
Remove the pot from the heat and open the lid. Stir and turn the sprouts so that the ones on the bottom come to the top and the ones on the top end up on the bottom, and wait for 30 seconds.
Step 4. Season
Drain the spouts in a colander to remove the extra water and let cool for a couple of minutes. Place the warm sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic, green onion, Korean soup soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and a pinch of salt.
Step 5. Hand toss to mix
Toss the salad with your hand or using kitchen tongs to mix well. Taste the salad and add more salt if needed.
Korean Dishes to Serve With
The Kongnamul muchim is a versatile and delicious accompaniment to many popular Korean dishes, such as:
- Beef Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- Spicy Pork Bulgogi (Jeyuk Bokkeum)
- Chicken Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Chicken)
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Dakgalbi (Spicy Korean Chicken Stir-Fry)
- Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)
- Dakdoritang (Spicy Korean Chicken Stew)
To store Kongnamul side dish, either serve it at room temperature or chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The salad keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week, making it a convenient dish to prepare ahead of time.
5 Must-Try Korean Side Dishes
- Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim): Thinly sliced cucumbers with a spicy, sweet, and tangy dressing makes a refreshing salad.
- Quick Braised Tofu Recipe: Simple yet flavorful side dish features bite-sized pan-fried tofu cubes in a savory sauce.
- Korean Spinach Side Dish in 2 Variations: Versatile spinach side dish in two ways
- Korean Braised Lotus Root: Lotus root slices in a flavorful sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, and spices.
- Korean Pan-Fried Potatoes (Gamja Bokkeum): Popular potato side dish in Korean cuisine. You can stir-fry the potato alone or with other vegetables.
If you try this Korean bean sprout side dish recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers, too.
Korean Bean Sprout Salad (Kongnamul Muchim)
- Put sprouts in a pot and pour in 4 tablespoon of water. Close the lid tightly and let the sprouts cook over medium heat for 6 minutes. Do not open the lid. If you have a glass lid, you will see the steamed water drips down under the lid.
- Remove the pot from the heat and open the lid. Stir and turn the sprouts so that the ones on the bottom come to the top and the ones on the top end up on the bottom, and wait for 30 seconds.
- Drain the spouts in a colander to remove the extra water and let cool for a couple of minutes.
- Place the warm sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic, green onion, Korean soy soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and a pinch of salt. Toss the salad with your hand or using kitchen tongs to mix well.
- Taste the salad and add more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled.