This quick stir fry is an easy and delicious way to serve bean sprouts as a meal! Tossed with garlic chives, tofu, plenty of garlic, and a soy sauce based stir fry sauce, this dish reminds me of something I used to order regularly when I lived in Hong Kong. 

Bean sprouts garlic chives stir fry

What are Bean Sprouts?

Bean sprouts, or mung bean sprouts, are green or yellow mung beans that have white stalks sprouting from them. They are often used in salads, as a topping for noodle soups, in stir fries, and sometimes curries. They are very popular in East and Southeast Asian cooking because they are easy to find and cheap to buy.

What are Garlic Chives?

Garlic chives belong to the liliaceae species, or the bulb onion family. But unlike many of its species where the bulb is edible, garlic chives are cultivated for their flowers and stems. They look similar to onion chives (or simply called chives) but are longer and flat, almost like tall grass. The taste is more garlicky than oniony, but still very mild compared to actual garlic.

They are mostly used in East and Southeast Asian cooking in dishes such as stir fries, soups, and salads.

Where to Buy Garlic Chives

You can buy garlic chives at Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese grocery stores, in the fresh produce section.

Smoked tofu and garlic in skillet

Best Types of Tofu to use for Bean Sprout Stir Fry

Using tofu in stir fries is a great substitute for meat and can impart a really interesting taste and texture depending on how it’s treated and/or seasoned. Therefore, it’s important to know the differents types available in order to get the right consistency and flavor.

Extra firm tofu usually does the trick for stir fries that use crunchy vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and celery. Because the vegetables are so crunchy, using a softer yet still firm block of tofu introduces moisture and a more tender element to the stir fry.

But for something like a bean sprout stir fry which only use delicate vegetables, it’s best to use a very firm tofu (such as the ones I’ve listed below) in order to get the perfect balance of “chewy-meatiness” and soft crunch.

Pressed and Fried Tofu: This is the type I usually use for stir fries in general because I love fried tofu. I love that it absorbs flavor well, looks pretty, and adds an extra textural element to the dish.

Tofu Cutlets: This type is only sold by House Foods, which is one of my favorite tofu brands. The tofu is very similar to pressed and fried tofu but is even firmer than that. It’s closer to smoked tofu in texture but has that lovely fried exterior, and also comes in different flavors such as teriyaki, spicy garlic, and savory orange.

Smoked Tofu: Smoked tofu is often used in Chinese cooking to make salads, sides that come with vegetables, and stir fries. It has a smoky taste that usually come from smoking the tofu in tea leaves, a brownish exterior, and is compact like cheese (you can barely see the curds).

ingredients for bean sprouts tofu stir fry

Ingredients for Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu and Garlic Chives

  • Tofu: As previously mentioned, choose a type of tofu that is very firm such as smoked tofu, pressed and fried tofu, or tofu cutlets by House Foods. Slice the tofu about 1 inch in thickness.
  • Oil: Using peanut oil will add an element of nuttiness, or you can use a neutral oil with a high smoking point such as vegetable or grapeseed oil.
  • Garlic: There’s plenty of garlic in this stir fry! I’m using 5 garlic cloves but feel free to use up to 8 if you are a garlic lover.
  • Stir fry sauce: A mix of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and mirin. To make this sauce vegan, use hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce.
  • Bean sprouts: Make sure to buy fresh white bean sprouts that are nice and crispy. Stay away from anything that looks dirty, slightly brown, or where the sprouts look a little soft.
  • Garlic chives: Just like grass, a nice bunch of garlic chives should look fresh and have a nice green color.
  • Sesame oil: Sesame oil is nutty and earthy and also brings balance to the dish.
Smoked tofu and garlic in skillet

How to Make Bean Sprout Stir Fry

  1. Gather all of your cooking tools and ingredients.
  2. Slice the tofu into 1-inch thick pieces. If you are using smoked tofu, I recommend going one step further and slicing them into sticks so they are about the same length as the garlic chives, but a little thicker, like a chopstick.
  3. Put all of the ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Use a wok or a deep skillet and turn the heat to high. Wait about 2 minutes for the surface to get very hot.
  5. Add the oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the tofu and stir fry constantly for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the bean sprouts and garlic chives and stir fry for 1 minute – tossing them up if you can.
  8. Add the stir fry sauce and quickly toss the tofu and veggies to coat evenly.
  9. Turn the heat off and finish by drizzling the sesame oil on top. Serve immediately.
Bean sprouts garlic chives stir fry

How to Make Stir Fry as Good as Chinese Takeout

Here are some easy tips to follow so that your homemade stir fries will come out tasting and looking as good as your favorite local Chinese restaurant.

  • Use peanut oil or a neutral oil. Most Chinese restaurants use peanut oil because it has a high smoking point and a lovely nutty flavor. But if you don’t have any you can use a neutral oil like vegetable or grapeseed oil (better for you since it has a higher concentration of good fat), or any other neutral oil with a high smoking point. Steer clear of olive oil as they impart a fruity/floral flavor and scent.
  • Use a large deep skillet or wok. You need something deep enough that can hold the ingredients when they are being tossed up and around. A deep skillet or wok is also good to push ingredients to the side, while other ingredients, that need a shorter cooking time, are added later on in the stir frying process. For example, when making fried rice, the rice mixture has to be pushed to the side to leave space for the egg to be scrambled before it can be mixed in.
  • Make sure your skillet is very hot before adding anything to it. This is crucial to the success of your stir fry! Do not add anything to the wok – not even oil – until it is very hot, otherwise the ingredients won’t be able to flash fry. It’s the difference between having perfectly moist and slightly crunchy veggies on your plate, versus limp ones soaked in sauce.
  • Add the ingredients that take the longest to cook, first. Separate the vegetables that are super crunchy and take longer to cook from the ones that don’t. For example, start by stir frying the carrot, celery, and broccoli for a couple of minutes, and add the zucchini, bamboo, and bean sprouts after.
  • Toss constantly for 3-5 minutes. Don’t go any longer than that if you like your veggies to retain a little crunch. And don’t stop tossing and stirring, you must do this constantly!
  • Add the sauce last, about 30 seconds before turning off the heat. Only add the sauce once the vegetables are cooked, otherwise the sauce will evaporate and you won’t have any extra left to pour over your rice.
Garlic chives, bean sprouts and tofu stir fry

What to Serve with Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu and Garlic Chives

This is a fairly light dish with delicate flavors so it can be served with sides that pack a punch or that are heavier. Some of my favorites are:

Bean sprouts tofu stir fry

Did you like this Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu and Garlic Chives Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

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Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu and Garlic Chives

Bean sprouts garlic chives stir fry

Tossed with garlic chives, tofu, plenty of garlic, and a soy sauce based stir fry sauce, this quick stir fry only takes 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Tofu
  • Method: Stir frying
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 ounces smoked tofu, pressed tofu, or tofu cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 5 ounces beans sprouts, rinsed and drained and lightly patted dry
  • 2 ounces garlic chives, chopped into 3-inch long stalks
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Stir fry sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (vegan: use 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin

Instructions

  1. Slice the tofu into 1-inch thick pieces. 
  2. Mix all of the ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place a wok or deep skillet over high heat and wait for about 2 minutes for the wok to get very hot.
  4. When the wok is very hot, add the oil and swirl it to coat the base.
  5. Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the tofu and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the bean sprouts and garlic chives and stir fry for 1 minute, tossing them up in the air if possible.
  8. Add the stir fry sauce and quickly toss the ingredients to coat them evenly.
  9. Turn the heat off and drizzle the sesame oil on top.
  10. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Notes

Leftover: Store the leftovers in an airtight storage container, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Freezing: Unfortunately, this stir fry cannot be frozen due to the delicate texture of the bean sprouts.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2
  • Calories: 210
  • Sugar: 5.1g
  • Sodium: 378.3mg
  • Fat: 13.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.3g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Protein: 12.3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: mung bean sprouts, low calorie

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