Bean Sprouts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bean sprouts are produced by allowing seeds to germinate and grow for a short time to form shoots. The Chinese have been sprouting mung and soya beans for 3,000 years, and bean shoots, always popular in E. Asia, are now widely available elsewhere.

Sprouts of all kinds are highly nutritious. Germination breaks down some of the starch and protein in the seeds and makes them more digestible; and the green shoots contain vitamin C which was not present in the seeds. Raw sprouts contain substances which inhibit the action of the digestive enzyme trypsin and must be cooked to make their protein available. Only a little cooking is necessary, such as the Chinese method of quick stir-frying, which preserves the crunchy texture of the sprouts.