I had to lay off the Brussels sprouts for a while, but I have just fallen off the wagon. I entered rehab after a love affair with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts led to run of these Brussels sprouts, which are delicious, and from there it was a short slide to a spate of these Brussels sprouts, which you can make with bacon instead and which are insanely addictive, or at least they are to me, and I was all set to embark on these Brussels sprouts when the family staged an intervention, and I cooled it for a while.
But during my Vegetable Week quest, I ran across a recipe for Brussels sprouts in coconut milk, and that sounded pretty good, and I was home alone. As soon as the coconut milk hit the sprouts, though, I knew I had been steered wrong. The reason the other sprouts were so damn tasty was that they are flash-cooked in a little fat, and you get a caramelizing effect on the edges with a bright flavor elsewhere. If you groaned at the mere mention of one of these dollhouse-size cabbages, it is likely because you have been subjected to the odor, flavor and texture of a Brussels sprout cooked in liquid. Let’s just pretend this is a whole new vegetable, because that is what it tastes like.
Furthermore, fast cooking preserves the stupendous nutrient value of the sprout, which is high in sulforaphane, believed to have potent anticancer properties, and indole-3-carbinol, which is reported to block the growth of cancer cells. Who doesn't need a little of that action in their day?
But mainly they are tasty, and in my experience tastiness leads to eating, and this week we are all about eating our vegetables so this is all to the good.
If you have a food processor, it is the work of a moment to shred the little buggers using the slicing disk (be sure to trim the woody end off and peel off the outer leaves first). If you don’t, and I fall into the latter camp, it’s the work of several moments to just slice them up not particularly carefully. My friend Julie gave me a swanky new knife, which made short and pleasant work of the slicing. Incidentally, my friend from Grenada says if you set your knife down and it happens to balance blade-up, it means someone is going on a trip. My knife did, and then my dad called to ask if we wanted to go on vacation with them, so you can see that vegetables are VERY POWERFUL INDEED.
stir-fried Brussels sprouts with coconut, chile & lime
About a pound of Brussels sprouts
2-3 T unsweetened shredded coconut
2-3 T vegetable oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
a fat pinch of coarse salt
a fat pinch of dried red pepper flakes
a wedge of lime
Trim and whack up the sprouts, by hand or machine. Have a serving dish ready near the stove. Heat a medium heavy skillet over medium heat and put the coconut into it. Stir and toss for a moment or two, until the coconut is lightly toasted. (This is not a good time to space out and wander off, as I am telling you that a few moments is all that stands between you and burned coconut). Immediately remove the coconut to the dish. Now heat the oil in the pan for a moment, and toss in the remaining ingredients, Stir well to combine and fry until the sprouts are lightly browned in places and bright green and tender-cooked throughout. This takes about 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat, toss the coconut in and stir it around, and then remove it all to the serving dish and squeeze the lime on top. Serve immediately as a hot side, or room temperature as a salad.