Alfalfa/Bean sprouts can have a strong taste or they are too firm to chew on easily. I tried adding salt or salty ingredients with some success to soften the sprouts and reduce bitterness. What is your advice for combining them in salads?
I'm going to guess that you mean bean-sprouts, and not Brussels sprouts. In that case, you just roll with the crunchiness. There's a lot to be said for balancing textures and not just flavours.
Tomatoes and cucumbers are relatively soft; peppers, sprouts and celery give crunch; lettuce and cabbage give a sort of fibry texture. They can all happily co-exist in the same salad.
If you did mean Brussels sprouts, I would recommend just using cabbage instead. It can be finely chopped into a salad and gives a nice touch.
Store-bought sprouts tend to be rather mature. Some robust sprouts (soybean and the like) can be lightly blanched, although this is only recommended because of potential impurities. To blanch sprouts, just dip them into boiling water for 30 seconds using a colander, and dip them in ice water immediately.
You may want to try germinating your own sprouts.
Growing your own sprouts offers a few advantages:
- Variety: Try out different types of seeds, grow the ones you like most.
- Choice of Maturity: Try out at what age you like them most. 3-day-old sprouts tend to be softer and milder.
- No doubt about cleanliness: If you grow your own sprouts, you know they are clean.
I'd halve them, par boil for a few minutes in salted water, then stir fry them with some pancetta, before tossing through the salad leaves. Drizzle on the pan juices and dress with olive oil and some kind of acid (vinegar or lemon juice).
That's if sprouts weren't the devil's own vegetable, of course ;)
Careful about the maturity of beansprouts: too young and they are still toxic in their raw state. 40 people went to hospital from a conference salad buffet featuring chickpea and kidney sprouts.
Mung bean is the most common store-bought cooking sprout. sprouting at home means that the water used has not been contaminated by animal agriculture, ie E Coli and other beasties that have broken out in commercial production.
Nearly raw mung beansprouts are less bruised and darkened in salad and have more tender crunch. Pour boiling water over sprouts in a sieve. Shake a bit and let cool. Can be stored in the fridge at this point a day ahead.
Chinese would dress with a drop or 2 of sesame oil (dark)and a splash of vinegar and perhaps a bit of garlic with salt and pepper (white) to taste. Another Chinese way is with lengths of chives making the dish 'green and white snakes'. Normally served hot but why not as a crunchy cold salad?