September 30, 2017

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Even though I'm not always the biggest fan of vegetables, I do love farmers' markets, especially since the one here in Madison is full of bread and cheese (and samples). I always make a point of visiting a local farmers' market when I travel, and one of my favorites was in Kansas City. That was the first time I saw brussels sprouts on the stem, or whatever you want to call the giant leafy trunk with little buds of brussels sprouts. I highly recommend looking up pictures of brussels sprouts growing if you've only seen them already harvested. Here in Madison, they're definitely at the farmers' market this time of year but you can usually only find them already plucked and in containers, though that doesn't impact how delicious they can be if you cook them right.

My sister refuses to be in a 5 mile radius of our house when my mom bakes these in the oven since the smell is so strong, so I've had to resort to other methods. I decided to roast them so they are fork-tender and cooked through but also get a nice caramelized brown crust. Cutting the brussels sprouts in half gives you more surface area for the tasty brown bits, so don't skip that step even if it's tedious.

The sauce starts with tons of fresh ginger and garlic. They go from brown to burnt very quickly, so keep an eye on your stove. From there, you stir in all sorts of basic Asian condiments: Sriracha for spice, soy sauce for bulk and saltiness, hoisin for earthiness, sugar for sweetness, and rice vinegar for tang. I also throw in some peppercorns or chiles for some extra heat since Kung Pao should be spicy. I think the ratio I listed balances all of these flavors well, but if you disagree just adjust it to your liking. But also reevaluate your priorities because my whole family thinks this is delicious.

The flavorful sauce ingredients alone don't make much of a glaze for the brussels sprouts, so I make a cornstarch slurry (just cornstarch and water) as a thickening agent. It's incredibly easy but must be stirred constantly once added to avoid lumpiness. Once it reaches a boil, it should form a nice, thick glaze. It's then time to add the brussels sprouts; you don't need to cook them much more since they're already tender so just leave them in long enough to soak up some of the sauce. I like to serve them with peanuts for crunch and scallions for a bit more green, but my dad tends to steal as many brussels sprouts as possible before they even hit the table. Apparently he's "just tasting" to make sure they're good enough to serve, but keep an eye on your family since this recipe tends to bring out the veggie-snatchers.

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, Halved
4 T Oil
2 tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
4 Cloves Garlic
2 T Sriracha
Dried Chiles or Sichuan Peppercorns
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
2 T Hoisin
2 T Sugar
2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Chopped Peanuts
Scallions for Garnish

Heat oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet.

Toss the brussels sprouts with 2T oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fork-tender and nicely browned.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Stir in the Sriracha, chiles/peppercorns, soy sauce, hoisin, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Whisk the cornstarch and 2T water together, then add to the sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then stir in the brussels sprouts. Toss with the peanuts and serve.

Serves 2-4

1 comment:

  1. I have tried kung pao chicken before and it taste so yummy.Now I really want to try your Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts to check out its taste too.