Monday, May 23, 2011

Chao Dou Ya  (Stir Fried Bean Sprouts)

Chao Dou Ya is not only an example of how elegantly simple Chinese vegetable dishes can be, but also how healthy.  No less a health guru than Dr. Weil gives us a recipe for Stir fried bean sprouts, which you can reference at: It is surprisingly similar to this...

Nowhere is the Chinese penchant for freshness and texture better demonstrated than in Chao Dou Ya.  Many people in the west, seldom experiencing sprouted mung beans as anything other than glutinous filler in Chinese American versions of “Chow Mein,” will hardly recognize the vegetable when prepared in this minimal way.  Bean sprouts have an astonishingly sweet, succulent and distinctive flavor.  In the method below, the addition of yellow onion contributes a highly complimentary flavor to the sprouts.

  • 16 oz Bean sprouts (fresh mung bean sprouts)
  • 2 Tab shredded mild or sweet red pepper
  • 1 Green onion, white and green portions shredded separately
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, slivered into quarter inch wedges
  • Salt to taste (Approximately 2 –3 pinches of kosher salt is excellent)
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
Stir fried beansprouts should only be prepared using sprouts which are fresh, crisp and white-fleshed.  Wash them if necessary in very cold water, and drain thoroughly.  In the meantime, prepare the ingredients as described and pre-heat the wok on low to medium heat.  An important flavoring for this dish comes from the slight browning of the yellow onion and sprout; therefore, while it is necessary to use a very hot wok, one must fry the ingredients quickly to maintain their essential flavors and textures.  Turn the heat under the wok to high; when it is smoking hot, swirl two or three tablespoons of peanut oil into the pan and when it begins to smoke, throw in yellow onion wedges and white portion of green onion.  Press the onions gently against the surface of the wok and let them cook for a few seconds until you can observe browning around the edges.  Toss once and repeat, but do not exceed a total frying time of more than one minute or so; making sure wok is very hot, add peppers and sprouts and toss, then gently press the sprouts against the sides of the pan to obtain the proper browning and cooking.  Repeat this several times; salt to taste as you go.  When the sprouts are still crisp, have lost their raw taste yet slightly wilted, they are done.  Plate and garnish with shredded green onion tops and a small drizzle of sesame oil.

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