Tue Apr 19, 2016
It's hard to remember the time in which I did not like brussels sprouts. It's funny, because that sprout hater period represented more than half my life, but once I discovered how awesome these tiny cabbages can be, I made up for lost time and usually order them without haste whenever I see them on a menu. Of all the brussels sprouts I've eaten, none stand out as much as the ones from East Side King in Austin. These fried sprouts, which have thin, crackling leaves, come in salad form with cabbage, onion, basil, mint, and cilantro dressed in a sweet and slightly spicy dressing. It's not something I've been able to get outside of Texas, so when I had a hankering for them a few weeks ago, I decided to make my own version done on the grill.
I feel like brussels sprouts are seldom thought of as a grillable item, and that's a shame because the high heat of a charcoal fire gives them a wonderfully unique, crusty sear. The only problem I have with brussels on the grill is that to roast them completely, it can take a good 30-45 minutes, which is a lot of fuel to spend for a side dish.
So to speed things up, I choose to halve, and then boil my brussels sprouts first. While some veggies lose a lot of flavor and become mushy while boiling, I don't find this to be the case with brussels, especially since they'll gain extra texture and flavor after being grilled. It only took five minutes to get these sprouts tender in boiling water.
Once they were done, I drained them, transferred them to a large bowl, and tossed them with oil, salt, and pepper. Then I went out and started up the grill while I prepped the rest of the components.
For the dressing, I began with the ubiquitous Thai chili sauce, which laid down the base sweet and spicy flavor along with a nice thick, coating consistancy. To that I added fish sauce for a savory, almost meaty, quality, lime juice for brightness, and garlic for bite.
For the rest of the rest of the dish, I decided to focus this recipe less as a "salad," and more of a true brussels sprout side with some complimentary flavorings. So I didn't go in as heavy with the remaining ingredients—I left out the cabbage and basil completely, using only paper thin slices of red onion and small handfuls of roughly torn cilantro and mint. You, of course, can go all in, but this saved me a little time and money and refocused the dish on the sprouts I love so much.
By the time I had everything prepped, the fire was raging hot and ready to go. Over this type of high, direct heat, the brussels sprouts caramelized incredibly quick, developing a nice char in about four minutes per side.
I took these burssels sprouts with their mouthwatering crispy appearance and placed them in a large bowl and added in enough of the dressing to coat them throughly, but not totally drown them in sauce. Then I tossed in the cilantro, mint, and onions, transferred them to a bowl, and it was time to dig in.
Since I changed up a bunch of variables, these weren't a facsimile of those East Side King sprouts I often dream about, but they were damn tasty in their own right. With less of a "salad" take, the brussels sprout were front and center, with their strong flavor paired up well against the sweet, spicy, and savory sauce. The mint and cilantro went a long way in furthering the distinct Thai profile, while the red onion added more sharpness than crunch since they were sliced so thinly. When I look at this dish, I can't imagine there was once a time where I would have rejected it just because I thought I didn't like brussels sprouts—this is seriously delicious stuff that can probably turn any sprouts denier into a believer.
Brussels Sprouts with Thai Flavors
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 30 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/8 cup packed roughly torn mint leaves
- 1/8 cup packed roughly torn cilantro leaves
- 1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
- To make the sauce: Whisk together chili sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of salt followed by brussels sprouts and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place brussels sprouts on the grill and cook until lightly charred on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
- Transfer brussels sprouts back to empty bowl and add in just enough sauce to coat completely, you may not need all the sauce. Add in mint, cilantro, and onion and toss to distribute ingredients evenly. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.