One of my new favourite things is a bean sprout salad. It sounds a bit worthy, but trust me, it brings new light to these odd jellylike strands which have always rather confused me. Bought in big bags in the Wing Tai Supermarket, we usually use half a bag in a hot chicken broth and then the remaining sproglets lurk in the fridge until they take on a really rather revolting odour. Whilst this speaks volumes of my bad organisation in the refrigeration department, it also highlights how I suspect few of us really know what to do with a bean sprout. Great with some chicken skewers and simple rice, this really is like penicillin. Given that sprouts are very high in water you need to add flavours which are punchy and bring life, so don't hold back on the salt or toasted sesame oil - it really completes the picture.
Inspired by one of the best spots in Brixton Market, I've added kelp. This adds a really meaty angle to the simple salad. At Mama Lan's you can eat in peace (sometimes a hard task in Brixton!) I always order the vegetarian dumplings with a seaweed salad. It is always an absolute treat and entirely restorative sanctuary.
So, you need:
a bag of beansprouts
some dried kelp
toasted sesame oil
light soy sauce
a little chilli oil
the green tops of spring onions, sliced finely
black sesame seeds
All these ingredients can be bought from a Chinese supermarket like the Wing Tai. First of all bring a salted pot of water to the boil. When this is at a rumbling boil heap in the bean sprouts. Blanch for about 3 minutes and then plunge into cold water. They should be translucent. Meanwhile, pour boiling water of a handful of kelp to bring it back to life. Make the dressing by combining the sesame oil, soy, sugar, sea salt and chilli oil. The dressing should have a good salty kick so don't be shy. Thoroughly drain the sprouts and kelp, even placing in a clean drying-up cloth to absorb any excess water. Dress generously and garnish with lots of black sesame seeds and spring onions. This salad will keep for a few days in the fridge which is always helpful.