Brussels Sprouts just don’t get much love. I’ve been trying to embrace them for years, experimenting with different ways to prepare them, with little enthusiasm or excitement. I find a lot of Brussels sprout recipes include honey, maple syrup, or balsamic vinegar to sweeten things up; but I’m just not a big fan of mixing sweet with savory. On the contrary, I tend to prefer salty and spicy notes.
But, recently that has all changed. I’ve been converted; am now a Brussels sprout believer. This has a lot to do with my rather new favorite ingredient — fish sauce (or nam pla). I discovered fish sauce a few years back and it has quickly become a favorite ingredient. A little splash of fish sauce livens things up; similar to the addition of cured anchovies (in a red tomato sauce, for instance), it’s that I can’t quite put my finger on ingredient. It brings a little something to the table and when mixed in with other ingredients is subtle, but still makes its presence known. Fish sauce itself has a pretty pungent aroma, but don’t let that scare you away. Combined with the tamari, vinegar, lime juice…it all works and is quite well balanced.
I find the size and cooking technique make a big difference when it comes to Brussels sprouts. I like to go for the smaller (younger), brightly green Brussels sprouts. They’re extremely tender and cook in no time. As far as the cooking technique, I prefer a quick saute in a pan (just 5 minutes or so, until just tender and lightly browned in spots) over roasting in the oven. I find roasting them in the oven results in mushy Brussels sprouts, and there’s nothing worse than mushy Brussels sprouts.
Made a tasty meal with the Brussels sprouts, served them over a bed of Israeli whole wheat couscous (or substitute short grain brown rice), topped with a poached egg and sprinkling of lightly toasted cashews (some crunchy Marcona almonds would also be a nice addition); and lastly, finished with a drizzling of fish sauce vinaigrette to tie it all together. Quite delish!
Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette Topped with a Poached Egg
Brussels sprouts, cut in half, larger ones quartered, very small ones can be left whole
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 green onions, sliced
Whole wheat Israeli couscous or short grain brown rice, cooked
poached egg, 1 per bowl
cashews, lightly toasted in a dry skillet, roughly chopped
fish sauce vinaigrette (recipe below)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the Brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the green onion, and saute another minute.
Assembly: Add the couscous or brown rice (~1/2 cup) to each bowl, spoon the Brussels sprouts on top, place a poached egg on top, sprinkle with cashews, and drizzle with fish sauce.
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 to 2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced (depending on heat preference)
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.