By Henry Gould – March 29th, 2019
I guess it was ~5 years ago that Brussels sprouts went from the dish everyone avoided at Thanksgiving, to a vegetable almost all trendy restaurants had on their menu. Many credit David Chang of the Momofuku empire for their elevated stardom, as he was one of the first to deep fry them and toss in a pungent dressing of fish sauce, garlic and chilis. They were such a hit he had to take them off the menu as the demand was getting to be overwhelming. Nice problem to have…!
Deep frying anything usually ensures success, and with the sprouts it does make all the difference in the world as the entire sprout gets surrounded by the hot oil. Some recipes try to replicate this in a hot pan, or blanching in water first, but all result in just one side getting that nice crisp. A lot of the time they get scorched, or cook too quick and end up mushy. It’s complicated stuff, trust me…
Unless you have a huge pot of oil ready for frying, the below method gives you a very good result. The key is cut them in half, dry them, coat thoroughly in olive oil BEFORE putting in a 500F oven (no salt), then just resisting the urge to open the oven to early. The oil on the outside of the raw sprout can conduct way more heat than water, and in such a hot oven it gives that lovely brown “singed” effect like they’ve been fried. Adding salt before cooking would draw out more liquid and hinder frying, so season them before serving instead.
** NOTE: no I am not crazy to have thought it this much through, I just care a lot about Brussels sprouts OK??? **
Dressing them is up to you! I’ve linked to the Momofuku vinaigrette below, it’s very easy. Lemon, cheese and garlic is also nice, or maybe some chipotle mayo… harrissa hot sauce… soy garlic & ginger…. the world is your oyster. Also just plain with salt and pepper is lovely.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels sprouts, washed, bottom trimmed and then cut in half. 6-8 sprouts per person
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Optional dressings
- Lemon juice, grated parmigiano reggiano, capers, minced garlic
- Dressing of fish sauce, chili, garlic a la Momofuku
- Whatever your heart desires
For the sprouts, wash them first, then trim a small amount of the bottom off with a knife and then cut in half vertically. Make sure all the sprouts are dry with a paper towel.
Heat your oven to 500F. Put the sprouts in a bowl and drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil so the sprouts are well coated.
Get a frying pan that can go in the oven and heat up on the stove. Once hot, pour your sprouts in the pan and arrange them flat side down. If the pan is too crowded, get a 2nd pan, otherwise they won’t brown correctly.
Stick in the hot oven and leave for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take a look. The more brown they are, the better they’ll taste. Give the pan a shake to make sure none are stuck, and keep cooking if they’re not brown enough.
Take out of the oven, put in another bowl or on a big plate and season with salt and pepper, then whatever other seasonings you choose.