I like to think that there is no such thing as a food I don’t like, only preparations of food I don’t like. Take beets, for example. It took me a while to get in to them. Plain boiled beets just don’t do it for me. Borscht is the stuff of my nightmares. However, I have discovered that beets are quite nice when roasted and played against an extra bold flavor, like balsamic vinegar or goat cheese (or both). Pickled beets are also pretty damn good. So far, there are very few veggies that I have an all-out aversion to, but Brussel Sprouts came close for a long time – but these Sweet Sesame Brussel Sprouts change my mind.
I used to hate Brussels sprouts. Their stinky smell, their bitter flavor. Yuck city. Those little green buggers just totally grossed me out. I had tried them prepared in a lot of different ways; with garlic, with butter, roasted, steamed, etc. It felt hopeless. I was starting to wonder if I had really found a food that I could never learn to love. That is, until I tried them at East Side Kings. Their Brussel Sprout Salad is legendary for converting sprout-haters, so I gave it a go.
Brother, I was born again.
I liked them so much that I just had to create my own recipe. It was actually pretty simple, just a hot cast iron pan, some sesame oil, and a simple marinade made with soy sauce and maple syrup. My Sweet Sesame Brussel Sprouts aren’t exactly like the East Side Kings version, but they are dang good. I hope that you’ll love them just as much as I do. Serve them over a bowl of hot rice or noodles, and spinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top. It will change your world.
So now that brussel sprouts have been conquered, what’s next? Lima beans better watch their back. I’m a-comin’.
Sweet Sesame Brussel Sprouts
Makes about four servings
- 12 ounces brussel sprouts, sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil (the stinky toasted kind)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or Dr. Bragg’s for gluten-free folks)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes/paste
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce or extra soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 lime, halved
- 1 jalapeno, sliced thin
- one handful basil, chopped
- one handful cilantro, chopped
- a few scallions, sliced
- Heat up a large skillet over medium heat. (Cast iron is best, but steel will do.)
- When the pan is piping hot, add the oil and spread it out using a spatula.
- Quickly place the brussel sprouts in the pan, flat (cut) side down.
- Allow the sprouts to cook for five or ten minutes, long enough to give them a nice brown color on the bottom.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, red pepper, rice vinegar, and fish sauce if you are using it.
- Pour the mixture over the brussel sprouts in the pan. Let the mixture bubble away, cooking for about five minutes.
- Remove the brussel sprouts from the pan, along with the sauce, and toss with the fresh herbs, scallions, and jalapeno.
- Squirt the lime over the mixture, then serve right away.