October 17, 2012

Momofuku Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We haven't had the chance to go to any of David Chang's Momofuku restaurants in New York, and we do not own the Momofuku cookbook, but we probably need to make both of those things happen sooner rather than later. We've made a couple of recipes from the cookbook and every one has been not just good, but excellent. I'm tempted to say mind-blowing. The first thing we made was Bo Ssam - how could one not want to make it when the New York Times article featuring the recipe was called The Bo Ssam Miracle? So you see, perhaps my mind-blowing adjective is not hyperbole. Miracle, mind-blowing - whatever you call it, these recipes are worth trying. I could go on and on about the Bo Ssam, but I won't, because I'm here tonight to tell you about the magic David Chang has worked with Brussels sprouts.

First, a few words on Brussels sprouts. I've been confused by the spelling for a while, so I have checked and confirmed - Brussels sprouts, with a capital B and an -s at the end. They are apparently named after the city in Belgium, because they have historically been popular there. They are a member of the brassica genus, which includes all kinds of good stuff, like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. They have a bad reputation, probably because when they're overcooked they get mushy and taste of sulfur - no wonder generations of kids revile them! If those kids could taste these sprouts the way David Chang prepares them, I think they would change their minds. This is a totally different take on this vegetable, with the combination of sweet, spicy, savory, and sour that much of Asian cuisine does so well. We added a few things to the recipe to make it into a main course rather than just a side. 

There are a couple ingredients of note here. The first is the puffed rice, which adds a nice crispiness to the dish. We got ours in the bulk section at Berkeley Bowl, and we've seen it on sale in Indian specialty stores. You could just as easily use Rice Krispies or any generic form of that cereal. The second is the shichimi togarashi, which is a Japanese dried spice blend that contains (among other things) various chili peppers, orange peel, and sesame seed. We were only able to find nanami togarashi, which apparently has the same spice mix in different ingredients. We also found ours at Berkeley Bowl. If you can't find either, I would just add your favorite spice-adding element (you could use red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne) and a few sesame seeds.

Momofuku Roasted Brussels Sprouts (serves 2)
Adapted from Pithy and Cleaver, who made it from the cauliflower version in the Momofuku cookbook

- Rice, for serving (optional)
- 3/4 lb large Brussels sprouts
- 1 medium carrot
- About 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 4.5 tsp sugar
- Juice of one lime
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeño (or half of a large one), seeds removed, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup puffed rice 
- 1 tsp shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder)

If you're going to serve your sprouts over brown rice, get that started first, since it will take the longest. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the stems off the Brussels sprouts and then cut them into quarters if they're larger or halves if they're small. Peel the carrot, cut it in half lengthwise, and slice into half moon shaped slices. Toss the sprouts and carrots with the olive oil and some salt and pepper, and put them in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sprouts are nicely browned on the outside.

In a medium bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, sugar, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and mint to make the sauce. Set aside.

Put the puffed rice, a few drops of oil, and shichimi togarashi together in a small frying pan, and cook over medium high heat until the rice is lightly toasted. Remove from heat.

When everything is ready, plate the rice, then top with the sprouts and carrots. Sprinkle the puffed rice on top, and pour the sauce over everything. 


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