How to cook bean sprouts and avoid E. coli poisoning

Sunday 18 September 2011 17:01

Food safety authorities may be recommending that sprouts be cooked thoroughly following eight more cases of E. coli poisoning in France, but the notion of cooking what's most commonly eaten as a fresh garnish may be perplexing for sprout aficionados.

Aside from avoiding sprouts altogether, the US Department of Agriculture has always maintained that the best way to reduce the risk of illness is to cook them thoroughly.

Though they've been suffering from a bad rap in recent weeks - E. coli poisoning from sprouts is to blame for the deaths of 46 people in Germany - they're high in nutritional value.

Bean sprouts are a good source of protein, Vitamin C, and B vitamins. Mung beans, lentils and soybeans are also high in folate, while radish sprouts also have four times more Vitamin A and 29 times more Vitamin C than milk.

Though it may be uncommon to eat sprouts cooked, in Korean cuisine cooked soybean sprouts, known as kongnamul, are a popular side dish accompaniment.

These spicy sprouts are cooked thoroughly before being seasoned with minced garlic, chopped green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and hot pepper flakes. To make a non-spicy version, leave out the hot pepper.

To view the recipe, visit

Another version of kongnamul involves steaming the sprouts along with the rice in a rice cooker. For that recipe, visit

To watch how to cook the sprouts, visit The host cooks kimchi stew before tackling the sprouts.

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network show Dinner Impossible, also has a beef and bean sprout recipe inspired by Chinese flavors like soy and oyster sauce in which the sprouts are cooked thoroughly:

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