Bean Sprouts Are The Key To Elevating Ramen's Texture

Ramen has grown from a Japanese cuisine staple to a global favorite over the years. With as many as 27 variations of ramen to choose from, it's hard to get bored of this tasty and comforting dish. Whether you have the necessary ingredients to make a bowl of fresh tonkotsu ramen or you only have the time for an instant-packet version, you can add your choice of toppings for a fully personalized meal. Ramen is also a great dish to cook when you're cleaning out your fridge: Simply toss any suitable leftover produce you have into the broth and let it cook. This will even spruce up instant ramen. There are plenty of ways to elevate this dish, but when it comes to adding texture to your ramen, bean sprouts are key.

Bean sprouts are a popular ramen topping in Japan because of their light crunch. To preserve their delicate texture, put your washed bean sprouts in a pot of boiling water seasoned with a pinch of salt and let them cook for about two minutes. After that, remove the sprouts and place them in a bowl of ice water without delay. Let them sit for a further two minutes before draining, then pat them dry with a paper towel. They're now ready to be placed on top of a fresh bowl of ramen. You can also season them with some salt and pepper, plus a drizzling of soy sauce and sesame oil to complement the bean sprouts' natural, light sweetness.

Bean sprouts can also enhance your ramen's flavor

For an extra special and extra tasty ramen topping, you can also build a tiny "salad" with bean sprouts. Create a dressing with a teaspoon of rice vinegar and a teaspoon of sesame oil and season it to taste with black pepper, sugar, and perhaps even some chili pepper if you want it to have a bit of a kick. Toss the blanched and drained bean sprouts in it, making sure the dressing gets evenly distributed, then sprinkle a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds on top for extra crunch. Mix everything together then carefully place the bean sprout salad on top of the ramen.

As they are vulnerable to turning soggy, it's a good idea to stir-fry and freeze leftover bean sprouts so they can retain their crunchiness during storage. Stir-frying them with oil and a small amount of soy sauce will ensure they're already seasoned when you decide to use them. It's also wise to blanch the sprouts before freezing so they better retain their color, texture, and nutrients. Once they're cooled and dried, portion the blanched bean sprouts and place each serving in its own freezer bag, making sure they lay flat so they don't clump together. Remove any excess air in the bags before sealing them to avoid freezer burn, which will deteriorate the sprouts' texture and nutritional content. For the next three months, you'll have a ready supply of bean sprout that you can immediately add to hot ramen, with no defrosting needed.