Soybean Sprouts side dish (Kongnamul Muchim) is probably one of the most popular banchan in Korean cuisine and the most often served side dish in restaurants. This EASY 12 minute, non-spicy soybean sprouts recipe is loved by all Koreans young and old. It is also a must ingredient for bibimbap.
Soybean sprouts or Kongnamul is sort of like green beans on an American dinner table except unlike in the US, lot of Korean kids actually LOVE this non-spicy version of Kongnamul muchim 콩나물 무침. 😆 When I was living in Korea a few years ago, I remember seeing on TV that Kongnamul is the most common vegetable in every Korean family’s refrigerator beside of course green onions.
However, soybean sprouts is one of those dishes that comes out quite different in taste and texture – based on very minor changes in the recipe. It is also very easy to overcook or undercook this vegetable so without a recipe, it is actually not easy to get it perfect every time unless you have years of experience. And honestly, when I first started my blog many years ago, this was one of those recipes that I have not felt I have mastered it and decided to delay posting it. But oh my.. I didn’t mean to delay it for 8 years!!!😵😯
Soybean Sprouts (Kongnamul) FAQ
- Are Soybean sprouts good for you? Yes, soybean sprouts are a great source of Vitamin C, Thiamine and Folate. 100g of Kongnamul provides 13 g of Protein along with 26% Vitamin C, 23% Thiamine and 172 mcg of Folate. It also provides 7% Calcium, so a handful of these sprouts can helps your immune system and also helps kids grow strong bones. Soybean Sprout Soup (Kongnamul Guk) is also known to help with hangovers. See my Kongnamul Guk post for more info on why.
- Are Soybean sprouts the same as Bean Sprouts which are commonly sold in stores? No. The ones you see in most grocery stores are (Mung) Bean Sprouts grown from mung beans. These are grown from Soybeans which are used to make Tofu. Where can I buy them? Korean Soybean Sprouts are usually sold only at Korean grocery stores. You can also easily grow them at home.
- How do you eat Soybean Sprouts? Can soybean sprouts be eaten raw? Although soybean sprouts can be eaten raw, it is much tastier when it is cooked. Koreans make soup, cook with rice and make muchim (recipe below) with it.
- How to keep and store Soybean Sprouts fresh? To store for just 2-3 days, store them unwashed in the bag in the fridge. To store them longer, rinse and sort out black and rotting sprouts then put them loosely in a container. Fill the container with water to keep all the sprouts immersed in water. This will keep fresh for about 1 week.
Chef’s Tips for Perfect Soybean Sprouts Side Dish (Kongnamul Muchim 콩나물 무침)
- Keep lid closed – When cooking soybean sprouts, keep pot covered with a lid and DO NOT open it during cooking. Opening the lid during cooking will make the sprouts taste funny.. somewhat fishy. Alternatively, you can also cook Kongnamul in boiling water uncovered all the way and never close the lid.
- Do NOT overcook or undercook the sprouts. Overcooking ruins the crunchy texture and undercooking makes the bean part taste less yummy.
- How to store leftover kongnamul muchim – store in the fridge. It tastes good cold too so no need to reheat when you eat it next time.
- Root ends: Traditionally Korean moms always broke off the root ends of the sprouts. Not because they tasted bad but because it looked messy on the plate and also the root ends can become too chewy when cooked. But recent research study says the root ends contain a lot of good nutrients so I don’t take off the root ends now.
- Which soybean sprouts to buy – I like using Natto Soybean Sprouts as you see in the picture below. They are tender and nutty.
- Buy fresh sprouts – Do not buy sprouts with a lot of black spots on the bean part and/or when root ends are brown. Turn the bag over to see how it looks in the back and bottom.
Try my Spicy Kongnamul Muchim (Spicy Soybean Sprouts) if you want a spicy version.
- Add soybean sprouts into a bowl of cold water. Rinse and discard any rotten sprouts with black or brown beans and stems. Drain. Rinse and drain again. Mine was really fresh and had hardly any rotten sprouts.
- In a pot, add 1 cup water (for 14 oz sprouts), sea salt AND soybean sprouts altogether.
- Cover with a lid and turn on heat to medium high. Cook at medium high for 7 minutes. DO NOT OPEN the lid during cooking because it will make the sprouts taste fishy. It’s important that it’s on Medium High. If you want to cook at Medium, then cook for 8 minutes or so.
- Immediately drain cooked sprouts and let it cool in the colander. It will continue to cook if you keep it in the pot.
- While sprouts are cooking or cooling, chop green onions and garlic.
- In a bowl, add sprouts then season with chopped green onions, garlic, salt, sesame oil, sesame seeds and black pepper. Toss and mix lightly with your hands making sure the seasoning is evenly coated.
- Serve warm or cold as a side dish to any Korean meal. Enjoy!
BONUS! Make simple Kongnamul Deopbap (Soybean Sprouts Rice Bowl) –
Make my Korean Basic Seasoning Sauce (Yangnyeom Jang 양념장)
- 3 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs water or anchovy stock
- 2 tsp or less gochukaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
- 1 ½ tsp ~ 2 tsp sesasme seeds
- ½ ~ 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbs chopped green onions
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
Get a bowl of rice, top it generously with Kongnamul Muchim and then drizzle this Yangnyeom Jang all over! Mix it up and Enjoy!!
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Soybean Sprouts Side Dish (Kongnamul Muchim) - Not Spicy
- 14 oz soybean sprouts (Kongnamul, 1 bag)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp green onions
- 1 dash black pepper
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp garlic (chopped)
- Add soybean sprouts into a bowl of cold water. Rinse and pick out any rotten sprouts with black beans or brown stems. Drain. Rinse and drain again.
- In a pot, add 1 cup water (for 14 oz sprouts), sea salt and soybean sprouts. Cover with a lid.
- Cook at medium high for 7 minutes. Do NOT open the lid during cooking because it will make the sprouts taste fishy.
- While sprouts are cooking, chop green onions and garlic. Drain cooked sprouts and let it cool.
- In a bowl, add sprouts then season with chopped green onions, garlic, salt, sesame oil, sesame seeds and black pepper. Mix lightly with your hands making sure the seasoning is evenly coated.
- Serve warm or cold as a side dish to any Korean meal.
Tips & Notes:
- Sodium amount is high but that's because it accounts for the whole 1 tsp of salt that goes into the boiling water, most of which is discarded along with the water once it's cooked. Actual sodium level should be much lower.
- Keep lid closed - When cooking soybean sprouts, keep pot covered with a lid and DO NOT open it during cooking.
- How to store leftover kongnamul muchim - store in the fridge. It tastes good cold too so no need to reheat when you eat it next time.
- Root ends: Traditionally Korean moms always broke off the root ends of the sprouts. Root ends contain a lot of good nutrients so I don't take off the root ends. But you are welcome to do it if you like it better that way.
- Which soybean sprouts to buy - I like using Natto Soybean Sprouts as you see in the picture below. They are tender and nutty.
- Do not buy sprouts with a lot of black spots on the bean part and/or when root ends are brown.
- ** Note about scaling this recipe. The cooking time will vary depending on how much you are cooking.
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