Category Archives: Side Dishes

Brussels sprouts

DSC_0518I used to be a brussels sprouts hater. It was the one food I couldn’t stand, next to cabbage. My first experience with miniature little lettuceheads was at a dinner at my parents’ friends’ house. They also served lobster. So it was actually a night where I had two first experiences. The lobster was great, served with clarified butter. But the brussels sprouts were boiled, and served with butter, salt and pepper. They were bitter and made me gag. I’m sure many of you had the same experience. I never tried them again.

My second experience with brussels sprouts was at a dinner last week at George’s on the Cove. It was restaurant week, and the sprouts were served with scallops. I figured my palate had changed, and maybe I would enjoy them now. Not only did I enjoy them, they were prepared differently. They were…roasted? Sautéed? They were slightly crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside, and they were caramelized. I didn’t know brussels sprouts could be caramelized, like onions. I wanted to try them at home.

I’m sure you can roast them covered in olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven to get the same effect, but I made these on the stovetop first with a great recipe from 101cookbooks. I’m sure I’ll be preparing them different ways now that they are in season here.

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Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

(recipe adapted from http://www.101cookbooks.com)

Ingredients:

    24 small brussels sprouts
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
    fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1) Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact (or if you are lazy just toss them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil).

2) Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don’t overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.

3) Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Salt and pepper to your taste.

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Chinese sticky rice (Naw mai fan)

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Chinese sticky rice (naw mai fan) is a favorite comfort food of mine. I craved this while I was pregnant but never attempted to make it until now. My mom made this for me when she was taking care of us when the baby was first born and it looked easy enough, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

You might see a similar dish when you eat dim sum, except it is served wrapped in lotus leaves, and is steamed with bits of pork, beef and chicken mixed with the rice. Naw mai fun is more like a fried rice, except with sticky rice (also called sweet rice). My version is cooked with dried Chinese sausage (lop churng), scrambled egg, dried scallops (gawn yu chee), shiitake mushrooms and green onions. It is flavored with oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine. A lot of variations have dried shrimp, but I never liked dried shrimp, and I think the dried scallops give it a better flavor.

A lot of recipes also require you to soak the rice overnight, but my mom cooks the rice in the microwave for 20 minutes before stir frying with the other ingredients. It’s definitely a time saver, and I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Chinese sticky rice (naw mai fan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweet rice (sticky rice)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in water
  • 4 dried scallops, reconstituted in water
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 Chinese sausages (lop churng), chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (add more if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • vegetable oil (for stir frying)

*microwave safe dish for rice, approx. 2 quarts

Directions:

1) Reconstitute the mushrooms and scallops in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

2) In a microwave safe dish, add rice with 2 1/2 cups water. Cook in microwave for 20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed all the water and is softened. Fluff with fork, add more water and cook longer if necessary. Rice will have gooey consistency and be translucent/pearly when done.

3) In a wok, add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. On medium high, scramble 2 eggs. Set aside on plate. Add another Tbsp. of oil and cook sausage for a minute.  Then add scallops and mushrooms, cook for 30 seconds. Add rice, soy sauce, cooking wine, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Combine well.

4) Turn heat down to low. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the rice, cover and let it absorb into the rice, for about 10 minutes. Rice should be sticky and tender. Taste to adjust flavors if necessary (more soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc.). Mix in green onions. Pour into large dish to serve.

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Reconstitute the mushrooms and scallops in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

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In a microwave safe dish, add rice with 2 1/2 cups water. Cook in microwave for 20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed all the water and is softened. Fluff with fork, add more water and cook longer if necessary. Rice will have gooey consistency and be translucent/pearly when done.

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Green onions and Chinese sausage.

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Sesame oil, cooking wine and soy sauce. I don’t have a picture of the oyster sauce.

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In a wok, add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. On medium high, scramble 2 eggs. Set aside on plate. Add another Tbsp. of oil and cook sausage for a minute.  Then add scallops and mushrooms, cook for 30 seconds. Add rice, soy sauce, cooking wine, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Combine well.

Turn heat down to low. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the rice, cover and let it absorb into the rice, for about 10 minutes. Rice should be sticky and tender. Taste to adjust flavors if necessary (more soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc.). Mix in green onions.

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Pour into large dish to serve.

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Enjoy!

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