I never grew up eating brussels sprouts, they didn't grow locally so we never ate them. However, by the time, I did get the chance to try them out, I had a lot of anxiety built up based on all the opinions I had heard over time, they were supposedly pretty nasty! My first experience with the round cabbage-like doppelgängers was at a Thanksgiving dinner in Cincinnati, where the host had prepared a batch of seared brussels sprouts. You know that moment, when you are seated as a guest at someone's dinner table, and you feel obliged to try everything, yeah that was me sweating it out! With a lot of nervous apprehension, I stuck a fork into one of the four sprouts I picked off the serving dish and put one into my mouth. Lo and behold, they were actually good, actually better than good, they were delicious and I couldn't fathom what the fuss was all about. Fast forward to today, I'm in my kitchen cooking them every time these guys are fresh in season.
The bitterness is what drives many people away from these little guys. What kills the bitterness? Shaving the sprouts super thin! The finer the shave the better. It also makes the entire dish feel lighter in taste and texture. Which is even better because this recipe is light and healthy and packed with a bunch of great zesty and sour flavors. Also, on a side note, I love this dish with wine, it goes really well with whites and reds.
Let's talk a little bit more about the flavors, there's fresh ginger root, sour tamarind and fresh honey for the flavorings. I don't overcook the sprouts, just enough to get the shaving gently sautéed and to help bring out the ginger flavors. Both ginger and tamarind are really popular ingredients in Goan cooking and the combination here is perfect! Most of the time, when I cook these brussels sprouts, I will eat it as an entire meal but you can also serve this as a side with meat, poultry or fish.
ginger, tamarind brussels sprouts
yields: 4 servings
1lb brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate (I use the Tamicon brand)
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons honey
1. Rinse the brussels sprouts under running tap water, drain, and pat dry with a clean towel. Trim the ends of the sprouts and discard any damaged outer leaves. Cut each brussels sprouts in half and then slice them extremely thin to get fine thin shreds. Alternately, you can also shave them on a mandolin slicer using the thinnest setting. Keep aside.
2. Heat the olive oil on medium high in a thick bottomed pan or skillet. Once the oil begins to heat up after approximately 30-40 seconds, grate the ginger root directly onto the hot oil using a microplane zester (or the fine teeth of a grater). Quickly stir and cook the ginger for 30 seconds in the hot oil, add the brussels sprouts to the oil, mix well and cook with occasional stirring for 8-10 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and adjust the amounts if needed.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the tamarind, hot water and honey to a thin paste. Taste and adjust the sweetness with more honey if desired. If it is too acidic then you can add a little more hot water.
4. Serve the warm brussels sprouts with the tamarind sauce on the side. You can also drizzle a little sauce over the brussels sprouts and then serve the rest of the sauce with it.