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Korean Bean Sprouts

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Korean Bean Sprouts (Kongnamul Muchim) is a popular side dish found at Korean plate lunch spots and restaurants in Hawaii! It's healthy and simple to make.

Korean Bean Sprouts in a bowl, ready to eat
Korean Bean Sprouts, ready to eat!

Korean Bean Sprouts (Kongnamul Muchim)

Korean Bean Sprouts are one of our favorite things to eat. They're a key part of Korean meals and appear as one of many banchan (vegetable side dishes) when dining at a Korean restaurant.

They're delicious hot or cold (and at room temperature), so it's an easy dish to prepare in advance and always have on hand.

We have many amazing Korean restaurants in Hawaii. They range from casual to fancy Korean bbq spots, to small family run Korean restaurants, and my personal favorite...the Korean plate lunch spots ^_^

You'll find Korean Bean Sprouts at all of these places. Each place makes it a little different. Some add more chili flakes. Other don't add any chili flakes. Some go heavy on the sesame oil. Others use a lot of garlic (hooray!) Feel free to adjust the recipe to your flavor preference.

Note: We usually call this dish Korean bean sprouts, but you'll also see it go by other names like Korean spicy bean sprouts and bean sprout salad.

Ingredients for Korean Bean Sprouts laid out on a counter (Soybean Sprouts, Garlic, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Green Onions, Korean Chili Pepper Flakes, and Sesame Seeds)
Ingredients for Korean Bean Sprouts: soybean sprouts, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, green onions, Korean chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds)

Ingredients

All you need is one main ingredient (the soybean sprouts). Everything else is just seasoning for the sprouts. Here's the list:

A bowl of just-boiled Korean soybean sprouts
Just-cooked Korean soybean sprouts

Soybean Sprouts Vs Mung Bean Sprouts

Make sure to use soybean sprouts (and not mung bean sprouts).

In Hawaii we can find soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts at many different markets. But on the mainland I've only been able to find soybean sprouts at Korean markets.

FYI: mung bean sprouts are grown from mung beans. Soybean sprouts are grown from soy beans (the same beans used to make homemade soy milk and tofu).

It's important to select the right kind of sprouts because they can look similar.

Adding seasonings to a bowl of just-boiled Korean soybean sprouts
Adding the seasonings

Method

This is a very easy to prepare dish. The only "cooking" you have to do is boiling the soybean sprouts in water.

First, clean the soybean sprouts by rinsing under cold running water several times. A few tips:

  • Discard any browned sprouts...there's always a few in every bag.
  • Pull off the stringy root ends if you have time. This isn't super necessary but makes for a much prettier dish.

Drain and set aside.

Second: bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and all the soybean sprouts. Place the lid on the pot and cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Make sure to keep the lid on the pot.

Third: drain immediately (you can also quickly rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking if you'd like) and place the soybean sprouts in a mixing bowl.

Fourth: add the minced garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, chopped green onions, and Korean chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds to the mixing bowl.

Toss and mix! I like to use a glove and mix by hand for best results. Eat and enjoy ^_^

Mixing the Korean Bean Sprouts with all the seasonings
Mixing the soybean sprouts with the seasonings

Questions and Tips

How long does this dish keep?

2-3 days in the refrigerator, in a sealed container.

Keep the lid on the pot.

The only actual cooking you have to do for this recipe is boiling the soybean sprouts for 5 minutes. It's important that you keep the lid on the pot the entire time you boil it. It's believed that if you open the lid mid cooking, the soybean sprouts will retain a fishy flavor!

If it's boil too much, just turn the heat down a bit. But make sure to keep that lid on the pot ^_^

How to serve this dish?

This is a side dish and is meant to be eaten alongside rice and a main protein (like meat jun, bulgogi, kalbi, etc), and other side dishes/vegetables.

Have you see what a Korean plate lunch in Hawaii looks like? Yes! That is the ideal way to enjoy this as a side dish.

But you can also just keep it simple and have a vegetarian meal. Sometimes for lunch I get a bowl of rice, top it with a big portion of these bean sprouts and then put a fried egg on top. Simple and satisfying. Also...healthy!

Because we mix and mash the foods from many cultures in Hawaii, I often serve Korean bean sprouts alongside Chinese, Japanese, and even local dishes.

I guess the answer is...there is no wrong way to serve this dish! You can serve it as a side dish, as the main vegetable component of your meal or just eat it plain as a snack. Do as you please ^_^

What temperature to serve this dish?

I love eating it slightly warm right after preparing the dish. Like many Korean side dishes, it's also great at room temperature (this is how it's often served at restaurants). And it's delicious cold, straight from the fridge.

So the answer is...serve it at any temperature!

Does it have to be spicy?

Definitely not. Just leave out the Korean chili pepper flakes. In place of the chili pepper flakes, you can also opt add a little extra garlic and/or green onions to "boost" the flavor.

Korean Bean Sprouts in a bowl, ready to eat
Korean Bean Sprouts, ready to eat!

Korean Bean Sprouts Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Korean Bean Sprouts in a bowl, ready to eat

Korean Bean Sprouts

Yield: 1 pound Korean soybean sprouts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Korean Bean Sprouts (Kongnamul Muchim) is a popular side dish found at all the Korean plate lunch spots and restaurants in Hawaii! It's healthy and simple to make. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve it alongside a big bowl of rice and any protein for a delicious local Korean meal.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Clean the soybean sprouts by rinsing under cold running water several times. Discard any browned sprouts. Pull off the stringy root ends if you have time (not super necessary but makes for a much more attractive dish). Drain and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and all the soybean sprouts. Place the lid on the pot and cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain immediately and place the cooked soybean sprouts in the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the minced garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce (or salt), chopped green onions, and Korean chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds to the mixing bowl.
  5. Toss and mix well. I like to use a glove and mix by hand for best results. Eat and enjoy!
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