Sakamoto Namul (Marinated Bean Sprouts)

Sakamoto namul, or marinated bean sprouts, are flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic, and make for the perfect easy side dish.

Imagine a huge vat of darkened bean sprouts lounging in a potent marinade chockful of garlic and soy and sugar. It’s unassuming amongst its elaborate neighbors, tsukemono and inari zushi, but still lures you in. And that’s how I ended up eating three large portions of marinated bean sprouts at a New Year’s Day party, even with all the other Japanese yummies surrounding me.

My mom asked her sister for the person who made the salad, who was soon swarmed by other women clamoring for the recipe. I’ve never seen elderly women move so fast en masse, except perhaps when one of the aunties calls for dinnertime.

I used a 12 ounce package of bean sprouts. The recipe never specified what size package, so I just picked up the cheapest one I could find.

For the dressing, I eyeballed everything. This is the type of thing that is pretty foolproof, and you can always adjust things later if necessary. I used less oil, since I remember the original salad being a bit greasy. I didn’t have any dashi-no-moto on hand, so I used fish sauce, pepper, rice wine vinegar and extra sesame oil to help pack the wallop. There weren’t any green onions in the crisper, so I added some sesame seeds to add more of a color contrast.

I was worried that the bean sprouts wouldn’t marinate effectively, as I wasn’t around to flip them and ensure equal coverage. When I got home an hour after tossing the dressing and bean sprouts, however, the sprouts definitely had a brown hue and the once massive pile appeared half as big as it was before.

The sakamoto namul pictured here was punchier than the NYD one I had, but just as good. The garlic came through with a zing, and the rice wine vinegar helped brighten everything. I’d double the amount of bean sprouts next time, not only because my family ate this batch in about 20 minutes, but also because there was a lot of leftover dressing. I’d cut back on the oil by about half, since it was still too oily for my taste. It was too garlicky even for my taste, so I’d add 3 instead of 4 cloves. I’d definitely recommend adding those green onions for a bit of freshness. I think some grated ginger in place of part of the garlic would add even more complexity, and I have a strong feeling that a handful of toasted sliced almonds on top would add a buttery richness that would soothe some of the sharper flavors.

Is this a repeat? Definitely. It took me 10 minutes to whip up, mostly because water takes a fair amount of time to boil. Sakamoto namul is a great side dish, or a wonderful snack for those times you’re afflicted with the munchies.

Sakamoto Namul (Marinated Bean Sprouts)

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 T vegetable or canola oil
1/2 package dashi-no-moto (or whatever Asian seasonings you think would taste good)
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil

Mix the above ingredients to create the dressing.

2 (12 oz) packages mung bean sprouts
2 stalks green onions, sliced

  1. Place the bean sprouts in a bowl. Pour boiling water over and rest for 5 minutes. Drain well and squeeze the sprouts gently.
  2. Toss the sprouts, dressing and green onions together. You can start munching on it immediately, but the bean sprouts absorb the dressing really nicely if you wait a couple hours.

2 Comment

  1. Does “sakamoto” mean beansprouts?

    1. i’m pretty sakamoto is the name of the original creator of the recipe. i thought namul meant bean sprouts in korean, but according to wikipedia, it’s a catch-all for edible grasses/leaves and their associated dishes. who knew?! 😉

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