When The Astronomer challenged me to a Brussels sprouts throwdown this past weekend, I knew that these spicy sprouts with a Vietnamese kick from Chef David Chang would bring home a victory. Compared to my competitor’s lemon, honey, and thyme dressed specimens, these were bolder and brighter—an all around more daring addition to the dinner table.
While both of our recipes called for gently roasted sprouts, they headed in markedly different directions from there. These Momofuku-masterminded ones are coated in a fish sauce-based vinaigrette with plenty of garlic, lime juice, chilies, and minced herbs. The dressing reaches every caramelized crevice, wrapping its sweet, sour, spicy, and salty way around each green head.
The dish is more or less good to go once the sprouts meet the dressing, but because this is a David Chang recipe, there is a fun and whimsical addition in the form of a toasted rice cereal topping. Imbued with cayenne pepper, these crispy grains were airy and positively spicy.
After all was roasted, marinated, and tasted, I’m proud to say that my Brussels sprouts came out on top. Although The Astronomer tried to argue that the chief ingredient was lost somehow in the pungency of the fish sauce, he eventually succumbed to their irresistible flavors and waved a white flag. Lemon, honey, and thyme are perfectly palatable, but going up against the triple threat of chilies, fish sauce, and “Spice Krispies,” they didn’t stand a chance.
For Brussels sprouts
- 4 cups Brussels sprouts (about 2 pounds), trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
- 1/4 teaspoon togarashi or cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 small red chile, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
Prepare Brussels sprouts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil and salt. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the Rice Krispies and togarashi or cayenne pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 30 seconds. Season with salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, water, sugar, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and chile and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cilantro and mint.
Assemble Brussels sprouts
Transfer the roasted Brussels Sprouts into a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Just before serving, sprinkle the “Spice Krispies” on top and serve right away.
Serves 4 to 6.
More recipes for sensational sides on Gastronomy:
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- Dukboki – Korean Rice Cakes in Hot Pepper Sauce
- Frank Stitt’s Creamy Grits
- Hobak Jeon – Korean Zucchini Pancakes
- Kimchi Pickling 101 with Chef EJ Jeong of Cham Korean Bistro
- Lemony Haricot Verts
- Old Fashioned Cornbread
- Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin
- Potato Skins
- Roasted Beets
- Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing
- Twice-Baked Potatoes with Goat Cheese, Leeks & Turkey Bacon