When we talk about bean sprouts, we’re referring to sprouted mung beans from the legume family. Other places call it the green gram, golden gram and chop suey bean. The sprouts are tiny germinated mung bean seeds that add crunchiness and natural nutty and delicate flavor to soups, stir fry dishes and salads.
Bean sprouts or mung bean sprouts are common in Asian cuisines such as pho and pad Thai in Thailand, stir-fried dishes in China, Korea, and Indonesia, ramen in Japan, kwati in Nepal, and curry in India.
Mung bean sprouts also serve as one of the most consumed meat replacement in the tropics because it is a good source of protein which is essential for the building and repair of body tissues. Other than that, mung bean sprouts are low in calories and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Because of its unique nutty flavor and crunchy texture, it is quite a challenge to find an alternative ingredient to replace mung bean sprouts. If ever you cannot find mung bean sprouts in the market, you can still find a few substitutes that can match your recipe.
In this post, we will share to you some of the ingredient substitutions for in case you think you cannot skip the mung bean sprouts out of the dish you’re about to prepare. We hope this list that we have made will be a good help for you.
Table of Contents
Bean Sprouts Substitutes
1. Grow your own bean sprouts
Freshly sprouted beans are commonly sold in many local markets in Asian countries. Before you can go to alternative items other than mung beans, let’s stick to the real thing first. When the markets are out of fresh mung bean sprouts, just know you can also grow your own sprouts! Go grab some pack of mung beans and just follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Wash the seeds and have it soaked in cool water inside a mason jar for
8-12 hours. Soaking the beans will initiate the sprouting process.
Note: A cup of mung bean seeds can make up to 2 cups of sprouts. Make sure you know the amount of mung bean sprouts you need for your recipe. You don’t want the rest to go to waste.
Step 2: Drain the water and rinse the beans thoroughly.
Step 3: Set the beans aside and rinse and drain with water every 8-12 hours, or
at least two times a day for 2 days. If you want longer sprouts, you will
need to extend another day or more until it reaches your preferred
Step 4: On your harvest day, rinse and drain the sprouts for the last time and
Your sprouts will retain its freshness up to two days under refrigeration when wrapped in paper towels or newspaper.
2. Canned sprouts
When you can’t grow your bean sprouts because you cannot find mung bean seeds, or you can’t find time to develop it to sprouts, then you might find a can of these in the grocery stores.
However, The thing about canned mung bean sprouts, you can’t expect that you’ll savor the same flavor and texture of these processed ones compared to the fresh shoots. Just give it a quick rinse before adding it to the dish you’re cooking.
Enoki, or velvet shank is an edible mushroom found in Japan. This mushroom becomes a good substitute for bean sprouts because they almost look identical in terms of size and color. In other words, the mushroom cap resembles the shoots of the beans while its stem seems the same as the sprout tails.
If your salad or sandwich recipe calls for bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms can replace it. Enoki mushrooms can offer a crispness with a mild peppery flavor.
On the other hand, enoki mushrooms cannot withstand heat. Hence, it won’t be a good substitute for cooking.
4. Soybean sprouts
No more mung bean seeds? Maybe you can find soybeans! Yes, you can grow soybean sprouts to replace your mung bean sprouts and still the same texture and crunch.
Soybean or soya beans are a part of the legume family, native to the eastern countries of Asia. These sprouts are best cooked in stir fry dishes, and its flavor is stronger compared to mung bean sprouts.
So, if you’re planning to germinate soybean sprouts, make sure to not to reach the long-tailed sprout stage. The longer its tail, the bitter it gets and that will compromise the flavor of your dish.
5. Bamboo shoots
Bamboo belongs to the grass family, which grows predominantly in Southeast Asian countries. Its newly sprouted canes that form under the soil are called bamboo shoots. Most varieties of bamboo shoots are edible, and it is a classic ingredient in many Chinese dishes.
If you’re looking for a mung bean sprout substitute that will give a good crunch and color in your stir fry dishes, bamboo shoots would be a suitable replacement. Just slice it thinly the way you want it to appear.
6. Sunflower sprouts
If you know the taste of sunflower seeds, you can also get it from sunflower sprouts. Sunflower seeds are technically from the giant heads of the sunflower plant. These are edible seeds that possess a mild and nutty flavor.
The difference between sunflower sprouts and mung bean sprouts is that of their color and size. And, sunflower sprouts are small with a sharp edge flavor. You can have sunflower sprouts as your last resort substitute for bean sprouts for your sandwiches. Since sunflower sprouts are little, you don’t have to slice it.
7. Snow peas
Both the seeds and the pods of snow peas are edible. Like the bean sprouts, it gives a good taste, shape, and crunch for your stir fry dishes.
You can slice the pea pods into thin strips, or you can simply cook the whole pod. It’s a good alternative for your missing bean sprout only in a different taste of goodness.
As to provide crunchiness to your dish similar to bean sprouts, a bunch of leafy greens might solve that problem.
Bok choi, green cabbage, or napa cabbage belongs to the cabbage family that comes with a wonderful crispy texture. It will give you a hint of fresh, grassy, and nutty flavor to your salads, sandwiches, stir fry and saute’ dishes. Cut the leaves in thin slices, and that will serve as a good substitute for your bean sprouts.
9. Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts are germinated alfalfa seeds that give a fresh, sweetish, and nutty flavor, delicate crunchy texture. These sprouts are fantastic for your salads and sandwiches in substitute for bean sprouts.
However, one thing that you have to be concerned about alfalfa sprouts is that they are potential carriers of food-borne illness-causing microorganisms such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Hence, it is a safer option that you grow your own alfalfa sprouts from disinfected seeds, but that does not guarantee that it’s 100% pathogen-free. Discard the alfalfa sprouts when it has become slimy or wilted.
Bean sprouts are usually referred to as mung bean sprouts. It gives volume, crunchiness, and the natural nutty and delicate flavor to various dishes such as soups, stir fry dishes and salads.
If you can’t find fresh bean sprouts in the market, get the canned ones, or you can actually germinate the seeds and wait for a few days until its shoots reach your preferred length. Hence, you have to prepare these ahead of time before the day you want to have a dish that calls for bean sprouts.
If there you can’t acquire mung bean seeds from the stores, you can opt to grow other kinds of sprouts as mentioned above.
All in all, try to make sure you are using the right bean sprout substitute that best suits your dish because each type of ingredient replacement will give different results in terms of taste, texture, and presentation.