Brussels sprouts with kimchi

October 30, 2012 § 21 Comments

Well, sheesh.  What can you say really?  I must admit, I’ve been saying for the past several years that one of these days a hurricane was going to swamp New York, and then we’d finally really have to take the weather seriously and get over the idea that we’re somehow in control.  But, gosh, I never ever ever ever ever ever ever (ever ever ever ever) wanted to actually be right.

I hope all of you dear people on the East Coast are doing alright.

I was on pins and needles all yesterday, all night, all this morning, texting, and emailing, and waiting to hear news from my brother and friends in New York, my good friends in Boston, Joel’s aunt and uncle in New Jersey.  I sure wish something could actually be accomplished through waiting and worrying!  Thankfully, it sounds like so far everyone, though without power, is generally unscathed.

I guess that right there is a little piece of grace in the midst of another big old mess.  I try to hold on to the hope that there’s always something to be thankful for, and believe there actually is, even though I’m sure that hope feels like it’s slipped away a bit through their fingers for some people.

Listening to the news about Sandy yesterday, I started to hum “These are a few of my favorite things” to myself, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.  When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things…  I guess a song about the little things you’re thankful for is never a bad thing to hum to yourself.

And thus, I make the ungraceful transition to Brussels sprouts.

Because, to be perfectly honest, if I were the one in the Alps dancing around and singing about my favorite things, while hearing from loved ones and dancing rays of sunshine would probably top the list along with snowflakes (that one I’d definitely keep on there!), I think the ingredients in this saute would follow in fairly short order.

Brussels sprouts, and kimchi, and sesame oil, and fish sauce.  Sriracha and charred bits, and sesame seeds, in a toss.  Sing with me now!  Dadadadadadadadada, these are a few of my favorite things!

It is also mid-autumn, and that means it is once again the time of year when I reveal my Brussels sprouts infidelity.  How I swear allegiance to bacon, only to turn and fall in love with sherry vinegar, and then molasses, and so forth.  This year is no different.  This year, I feel all over again that we have reached a new pinnacle for Brussels sprouts, this time because they have been united with the other highest calling of a cruciferous vegetable, kimchi.

Kimchi.  What doesn’t it lend an element of glory and umami to?  Teemed up not only with kimchi but also spicy sriracha, toasty sesame oil, and a sulfurous salty thwack of fish sauce, each bite of these Brussels sprouts (which contain their own bit of nose tingling kick, almost like a tamed wasabi) is like a little half tender, half crunchy savory flavor bomb in your mouth.  Yes, I just said flavor bomb.  I’m only slightly embarrassed.

I got the idea from the San Francisco Chronicle, which printed a recipe from the restaurant Sushi San.  I saw the words Brussels sprouts and kimchi, and I was utterly sold on the idea.  I was not, however, sold on the instructions to peel off all of the individual leaves of the sprouts.  While I’m sure this is delicious because the nearly blackened stray leaves are always the best bites of fried Brussels sprouts, I just really like halved Brussels sprouts, particularly when left undisturbed until their flat sides nearly char in the frying pan.  So, I decided to make them that way instead.

Then, since I was tinkering, I decided to tinker with all the proportions of the flavors to suit them just to my liking, as should you too, if you make these sprouts.  Particularly with flavors as strong of these, all measurements should be considered manipulable and taken with a grain of salt, er, splash of fish sauce.

To everyone on the East Coast who was just pummeled by the storm, know that the rest of us are all thinking of you and rooting for a swift and vibrant recovery.  You’re in my prayers, and I truly and deeply hope that the worst that you have to deal with is something along the lines of having some Brussels sprouts and kimchi in your refrigerator that need to get used up so they don’t go bad.

Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi (serves 2-4 if you eat Brussels sprouts in obscene quantities, like I do, more like 4-6 if you don’t)

  • 1 and 1/4 lbs. Brussels sprouts, bottoms removed and halved
  • 2 Tbs. peanut or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped kimchi
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 good squirt of sriracha (chili garlic sauce), plus more to taste
  • 2 1/2 tsp. fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • salt
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  1. In a very large frying pan, heat the peanut oil over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles if you drop it on the pan.  Add the Brussels sprouts, putting as many as you can cut-side down and tossing the rest on top.
  2. Allow the Brussels sprouts to cook without stirring for several minutes, until they’re getting deep brown, almost charring.  Then, stir them up and stir in a good pinch of salt.
  3. Turn the heat to medium and cook for several more minutes (4-5), stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are getting tender.  Then, stir in the kimchi, sesame oil, sriracha, and fish sauce.  Continue to cook for a few more minutes, until the sprouts are nice and tender.  Taste and adjust any seasonings to taste (I like my Brussels sprouts good and salty, personally!).  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.
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