Far out brussel sprouts!

by Forager on November 21, 2009

I’ve always been neophilic, that is, I’m always seeking out the new and unusual. The neophilia only gets more pronounced if I’m told I can’t have or try it. This was the case with brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts weren’t part of my normal Chinese diet growing up. But they fascinated me. Other kids in primary school spoke of how much they detested sprouts but how their parents would force them to eat them. Sprouts?! What are these things called sprouts? Now that I was suddenly aware of these sprout things they started appearing everywhere in my life. They were featured in every quintessential children’s book popular in the eighties – from Far Out Brussel Sprout to Asterix and Obelix in Belgium where Obelix was introduced to brussel sprouts for the first time (although admittedly, he didn’t like them either).

Plagued by brussel sprouts on the brain, I pestered my mother to buy them when we went grocery shopping, but as any sane mother who gets asked by their petulant child to buy brussel sprouts, she flatly refused telling me I wouldn’t like them as they weren’t very tasty. I think that sparked a trait in me that I carry to this day – reverse psychology works remarkably well on me. Don’t tell me I won’t like it as I’ll prove you wrong. Ok, in the case of natto, those awful Japanese fermeted soy beans, I’m 4 attempts down and counting, but I’m still determined to love natto one day. One day…

But being a small child, there was not much I could do to rebel against my mother’s stranglehold on the shopping trolley and the purse strings. And the obsession soon waned and gave way to others. Having the brussel sprouts dish at Galileo, The Observatory Hotel re-iginited the sprouts passion. It was delicious and despite what my mother claimed – I did like the taste of sprouts. I was determined to re-create the dish myself. The key ingredients in this recipe are bacon and brussel sprouts, other than those you can add in any green vegetables you fancy.


Tasty brussel sprouts with bacon and seasonal greens

Serves 2-3 as a main, 4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 200g rindless bacon or chorizo, finely chopped
  • 200g small brussel sprouts, washed and quartered
  • 4 zucchinis, quartered and cut into 4cm lengths
  • 100g beans, halved
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 whole leek, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or 2 tsp chicken powder in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dried mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of torn flat leaf parsley leaves
  • black pepper

Method:
1. Steam the brussel sprouts for 3 minutes and the zucchinis, beans, broccoli, for 2 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile add half the oil to a heated pan and fry the bacon slowly until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil.
3. Add remaining oil to pan and cook onion, leek and garlic until soft and translucent. Add in the steamed vegetables and cook for a further minute.
4. Stir in chicken stock, mint leaves and cover for 2 minutes.

5. Add in bacon, season with plenty of freshly cracked pepper and serve immediately topped with parsely leaves.


I’ve this recipe tested a few times now and can safely say I really like brussel sprouts! And that’s not just my biased opinion! Like my mother, the Co-pilot thought I was ma
d to want to try brussel sprouts, wrinkling his nose in disgust when I proposed cooking the dish for the first time, but this delicious brussel sprouts and bacon dish appears to have converted even him and it’s fast becoming one of our favourite vegetable dishes.

I love the variety and abundance of vegetables in this one dish and the smoky, salty bacon and chicken stock make everything so very tasty. When quartered, brussel sprouts expose their layered interior chambers which act as the perfect natural sponge for soaking up the tasty meaty broth. And the mint flakes and parsley provide a little freshness to the dish to lift any possible bitterness left over in the sprouts.

When I taste vegetables done in this manner I wonder, why on earth would kids have issues with vegetables? I was never picky with vegetables as a child, but then I had plenty of good, tasty Chinese cooking courtesy of my parents and hence plenty of tasty stir fried vegetables done in a variety of ways with flavours ranging from as simple as soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic or chilli to the more pungent flavours of shrimp paste or fermented bean curd. Perhaps if I’d been forced to eat plain boiled or steamed vegetables garnished only with salt and pepper or a knob of butter I’d develop an aversion to vegetables too.


But I digress, the point is, when done properly, even the humble brussel sprout, sworn lifelong enemy of children everywhere, can be a tasty morsel. And, despite my mother and the Co-pilot’s confident assurances that I wouldn’t like brussel sprouts, I do. That’s yet another win for the neophile – but hey, who’s keeping score?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty November 21, 2009 at 11:25 am

Lol. Yay for another win! I never knew what brussel sprouts tasted like as a child either! Was always curious. And I always loved my veges and was quite boggled when other kids didn't like theirs. 

2 Jacq November 21, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I share the same curiosity as you about brussel sprouts – there was all this hype about how horrible they were which made me want to try them even more! I still haven't tried them yet but maybe I'll lose my brussel sprouts virginity with this recipe hahaha 😉

3 Reemski November 21, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Ha! same! I think all non euro background kids were baffled by brussel sprouts. I had them for the first time a couple of years back at a Xmas in July lunch, just gently steamed in microwave with salt, pepper and butter, and I thought they were delicious! But I now have a range of tasty ways to serve them up.

4 The Ninja November 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm

To be honest, I hate brussel sprouts. But I loooooove chicken and bacon. Mmmmm bacon

Also, you have received an award here: http://theninjareview.com/2009/11/please-like-me/

Nice meeting you today!

5 Forager November 24, 2009 at 10:46 am

<span>Hey Betty – I think it's pretty universal unless you're an anglo saxon Australian kid that got forced to eat brussel sprouts! 
 
Hey Jacq – Definitely try this recipe with the sprouts. Don't know how they taste plain boiled but I can attest that they taste pretty good this way. Nice meeting you too! 
 
Hey Reemski – It seems that way doesn't it? But it seems to scar those kids. I know friends who refuse to try them ever again! 
 
Hey The Ninja – Ah, a brussel sprout hater! But have you tried them this way? Thanks for the award and it was nice meeting you too! </span>

6 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Hmmm ok so I'm intrigued now. I loathe them usually but the addition of bacon seems to improve everything! 😛

7 Belle@OohLook November 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Far out, I always used to ask my mum to get brussel sprouts as well. Then she did, and cooked them up, and I hated them! Now that I'm grown up, I like them with *lots* of bacon, too. Your recipe looks ideal.

8 Anita November 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

Hahaha. I was never given them as a child either as my parents had some that weren't very nice. I still haven't had any to this day. I have heard there are some nice recipes for them and I think bacon is a good way to make them taste good. I'll try them… one day…

9 Forager November 25, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hey Lorraine – Maybe I'll cook them for a meetup one day and see if you'll change your mind.. I'll add lots of bacon!

Hey Belle – Haha! Poor young Belle. What a let down. But at least you've recovered and given them another shot! I admire the persistence!

Hey Anita – You're carrying on your parent's scars! Go on! Try this recipe – I promise it's tasty!

10 Katherine November 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm

I just cant do it. Brussel Sprouts are a no no for me. It makes me cringe at the thought even with a hint of bacon. Maybe I should eat a miracle frootie before eating one.

11 Forager November 25, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Hey Katherine – Don't do it. Funnily enough I've had a Miracle Frootie before a brussel sprout at a tasting party. It tasted like burnt hair. No kidding. Read the post here: http://foragingotaku.blogspot.com/2009/05/altered-flavour-states-with-miracle.html

12 Ellie November 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm

To be honest, Brussel Sprouts are not my faovurite kind of vegetables but I have to say they can taste nice if cooked the right way.

13 Forager November 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Hey Ellie – I can agree with you that the brussel sprout isn't the tastiest vegetable going around but the poor little sprout has a bad reputation

14 Jade December 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Clearly am not the only Chinese person who hadn't tried Brussels sprouts till adulthood. They are damn tasty!

15 Forager December 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Hey Jade – We've decided it's an ethnic thing. Brussel sprouts seemed to be a very Anglo Saxon family food. They should have just tried to keep their kids from trying it. Seemed to work for almost every one else!

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