There's just one secret to saving Brussels sprouts: caramelization. It's the boiled version that's to blame for their terrible reputation, when they tend to smell terrible and taste bitter. All it takes to fix that is a shimmering skillet, a blazing hot oven, or, in this case, a bath in the deep fryer. Brussels sprouts can take a serious amount of color (you can cook them until they're almost black) and instead of burning, they just taste better and better.
The method for this recipe from Food 52 is no doubt tedious: You have to peel the leaves apart from each individual sprout (I recommend making the job easier by using larger sprouts) then fry them in oil. But this presentation has appeared on a number of restaurant menus lately (in Chicago, the Purple Pig does it, and The Vanderbilt in Brooklyn inspired this recipe) and for good reason: It maximizes the surface area for flavor and leaves you with crisp, salty, delicious leaves.
To round it out to a full meal, I fried slices of tofu dredged in flour and cornstarch in the same oil, though this would be marvelous next to a fat pork chop, too. Oh, and that sauce—a simple mixture of honey, lime, and sriracha—is way better than it has any right to be.
Adapted from Food 52.
- Yield:makes 4 servings
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:35 minutes
- 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2 teaspoons sriracha (or more to taste)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Juice of 1 large lime
- Vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches for frying
Slice off the root end of each sprout and gently peel away the leaves from the heart, collecting them in a large bowl. As needed, continue to trim the root end to free the leaves.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and lime juice. Add half the sriracha and taste, adding more if desired.
In a large, heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven), heat the oil until a leaf of sprout sizzles vigorously when added. Fry the leaves in batches (they will splatter, so use caution and/or a splatter screen) until crisp and brown. Remove them from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon to drain briefly on paper towels, then toss in a large bowl with plenty of salt. Keep warm in the oven while frying the rest of the sprouts.
Toss the sprouts with the sriracha sauce (they should be just coated, not drowned and wilting) and serve.