If those brussels sprouts look wildly overcooked, it's because...they are. I don't know who was in the Gourmet test kitchen the day they sent this recipe off to the press, or if my oven is malfunctioning horribly, but I ended up with a mushy mess after the recommended 450°F and 40 minutes. I should have realized what a long hot cooking time that is, but I was blinded by a desire for that roasted, nutty, caramelized flavor on the sprouts, which is the best part of that vegetable in my book—when its natural sweetness come out and the off-putting odor reviled by so many American children disappears. So I didn't even peek at them until it was too late.
Luckily, the sauce these guys get coated in is marvelous. I first had these sprouts at Momofuku Ssäm Bar and they blew me away; seeing the recipe online immediately sent me to the grocery store. It was also a perfect opportunity to use my Thai red chilies and fish sauce from Iron Pot Chicken, which was once again stirred into sugar with a little water to make a dressing of surprising depth, instantly, with little effort. The inclusion of mint and cilantro gives it an herbal quality, the garlic some extra pungency, and the crispy puffed rice some crunch (the rice bit is optional, though). Usually I just do my brussels sprouts with a little olive oil and balsamic, which is a wonderfully simple combination, but just a bit more effort made for something extraordinary.
The ingredients list for this recipe is longer than usual for "Dinner Tonight," but you can easily skip the puffed rice, which doesn't add much to the flavor of the dish.
- For Brussels sprouts
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- For dressing
- 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (preferably Tiparos brand)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 (1 1/2-inch) fresh red Thai chile, thinly sliced crosswise, including seeds. (I used dried and halved the amount.)
- For puffed rice (optional)
- 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal such as Rice Krispies
- 1/4 teaspoon canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)
Preheat oven to 450°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts, toss with oil, and roast, cut side down on baking sheet, for 20-35 minutes, depending on size and desired taste. They should brown but remain somewhat firm.
Meanwhile, stir together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.
If making puffed rice, cook ingredients together in a small skillet until toasted and slightly browned.
When sprouts are done, transfer to a serving bowl and add just enough dressing to coat. Top with more chopped mint or cilantro, and puffed rice if using.