I had the best Brussels sprouts of my life last week at a lovely little restaurant in Brooklyn called Vinegar Hill House. It was just before Thanksgiving and it got me thinking about the dwindling stock of green food coming from the earth this time of year.
Winter eating can be depressing for a girl like me, but given the limits and challenges of cold-weather cooking, some pretty amazing stuff can pop through this kind of tabletop sorrow.
The sprouts were roasted in a bath of fish sauce, peanuts and palm sugar. So simple. There were seared to a crisp, both salty and sweet, and utterly satisfying. Someone declared the ultimate compliment, "I'm never making Brussels sprouts any other way." I totally agreed and went home to recreate them.
With sugar already featured in fish sauce, I omitted the restaurant's suggestion of palm sugar and in favor of achieving perfectly al dente sprouts, I skipped roasting them in the oven and simply sautéed them stove-top in a hot cast iron skillet.
This may just be the green side dish that will get us all through the winter.
Thai-Style Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pounds
chopped roasted peanuts
Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts length-wise through the stem side. Set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and fish sauce. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss until thoroughly coated. Set aside for at least 5 minutes.
Put a 8 to 10-inch cast iron skillet over a high flame. When a drop of water dripped on the pan sizzles, dump the sprouts into the pan and then quickly arrange as many as possible flat-side down. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, then begin to agitate the pan, flipping the spouts until most have a charred exterior, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Taste one; it should be crisp yet tender and well browned in spots.
Toss with the chopped peanuts and serve immediately.
(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)