Crisp-Fried Bean Sprouts

MAKES: 4 to 6 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Unlike Bean Sprout Griddlecakes, where the ingredients are bound together in a batter before frying, here the bean sprouts are lightly coated and gently stirred in the hot oil. If some stick together, fine; if not, that’s good too. What you get is something akin to shoestring French fries. This is good without the garnishes, terrific with them. At the same time, make some Fried Tofu and cool J­cama Salad with Pineapple and Mint. Serve it all with Steamed Sticky Rice and you’ve got a feast.

Other bean sprouts (or cooked beans) you can use: soybean sprouts or adzuki bean sprouts, which you’ll probably have to make yourself (see Sprouts); or cooked chickpeas, gigantes, or edamame.

Peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for deep frying

1 pound bean sprouts (about 4 cups), washed and drained well

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour, rice flour, or cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish (optional)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Minced fresh chile (like jalapeo or Thai), or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste for garnish (optional)

Lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Put at least 2 inches of oil in a saucepan or other deep vessel over medium-high heat; bring to about 350В°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

Put the bean sprouts in a large bowl, drizzle the soy sauce over all, and toss gently to moisten. Add the flour to the mixture, a few spoonfuls at a time, and toss until the sprouts are evenly coated.

When the oil is hot, add about a cup or so of the bean sprouts to the pan. Turn and stir them occasionally with a slotted spoon, until crisp and golden on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper or cloth towels or brown paper to drain. Sprinkle with salt and lots of black pepper while hot. Repeat until all the sprouts are done. Serve immediately, garnished with peanuts, cilantro, chile, and lime wedges as you like.

Variation

Crisp-Fried Bean Sprouts in Lettuce Wraps. Fun to eat as an appetizer or part of the main course: Wash and dry a dozen or so large (clean) outer leaves of a head of Bibb, iceberg, or green leaf lettuce. To eat, put a couple spoonfuls of fried sprouts in the center of each, garnish as desired, and roll gently to enclose. Serve with Ginger-Scallion Sauce for dipping if you like.