Brussels Sprouts Go Chinese
A lot of people harbor a love-hate relationship with Brussels sprouts.
Me? I’ve had more of a love-avoidance pact with this miniature member of the cabbage family.
Growing up in a Chinese-American household, Brussels sprouts just weren’t to be found on our table. Amid a profusion of bok choy, sugar snap peas, gai lon, long beans, and winter melon, they were one green vegetable never prepared by my parents.
Not that I minded. After all, as I got older, the only descriptions I heard about Brussels sprouts definitely weren’t kind. They were lampooned in magazines for smelling up the house something fierce. And don’t get me started on the disgusted expressions my friends would make whenever this cruciferous veg was mentioned.
So I never ate them. If I saw them on menus, I avoided them, armed with the firm knowledge that they were to be shunned as if they were the Bubonic plague of vegetables.
As I got older, though, and more adventurous with my palate, I actually tried them. And what do you know — they weren’t so nasty at all. In fact, they were pretty darn tasty — firm and crunchy in the center, and covered with tender little leaves.
I enjoyed them with their leaves all separated, and sauteed with bits of salty bacon. I ate them, cut in halves, and roasted in a hot oven until their edges browned and caramelized.
But never had I tasted them in any Asian preparation until I had lunch recently with some friends at Straits restaurant in San Jose’s Santana Row.
The side dish of small, halved Brussels sprouts were coated with thick, sweet, tangy hoisin sauce. We couldn’t stop eating them. None of us had ever tasted Brussels sprouts like this before. The hoisin sauce mellowed the cabbage-flavor, and actually amplified the inherent subtle weetness of the vegetable.
Inspired by that dish, I decided to create my own quick version of Chinese-style Brussels sprouts at home with hoisin sauce, fresh ginger, and garlic. My Japanese-American husband, who had never had Brussels sprouts cooked this way, either, took one bite and declared the dish a winner.
Try it yourself. And begin a love-love affair with this veggie all too often given a bum rap.
Chinese-Style Brussels Sprouts with Hoisin Glaze
(serves about 6 as a side dish)
2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds small Brussels sprouts, washed, ends trimmed, then bulbs cut into halves
3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
7 to 8 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Toasted sesame oil
In a large wok or frying pan on medium-high heat, add peanut oil. When oil is hot, add ginger and onion. Stir, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic, stirring to prevent burning, about 1 minute more. Add Brussels sprouts and mirin. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until Brussels sprouts start to become tender. Stir in hoisin sauce. Continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes more. Drizzle with a little sesame oil, and serve.
From Carolyn Jung
More: For another dish flavored with wonderful hoisin sauce, try My Dad’s Foil-Wrapped Chicken.
More: For another Brussels sprouts recipe, try my “Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Pork in Black Bean Sauce.”
Hoisin sauce makes anything taste good, doncha know? Hehehe…
I love my Brussel sprouts the Chinese way! Your dish looks very tasty!
I LOVE brussels sprouts – thanks for the recipe!!
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I’ve never eaten brussel sprouts chinese style either! My mom never cooked them growing up, which after reading your post, I realize how odd that is because I think Chinese people cook with almost every other green vegetable available on the planet.
Mmm, love a sweet roasted sprout. Nothing bad about them. This could be something to try for the weekend.
Mmmm, that sounds interesting! I too didn’t eat brussel sprouts until an adult, and was first turned on to it by watching the Barefoot Contessa roast them. I’ve tried them like you said with the leaves chopped up and sauteed and even braised, and I enjoy them all ways when they’re in season. Thanks for another idea on how to prepare them!
I always steam them. Tried sauteeing them a couple of months ago and loved it. Will try this version!
I eat brussel sprouts with my dinner every. single. day. I love the little cute balls to BITS! Your way of preparing it is SO interesting! Great multi-cultural spin!
I am totally with you!! I never ate brussels sprouts when I was young–just heard from my friends that they were ‘gross’.
How far we’ve come. I started eating them a few years ago, and now when ever they’re on the menu, I absolutely always try and order them! This recipe looks delicious and simple. I’m definitely going to give it a try!
I used to not like Brussels Sprouts when I was growing up. My mom actually grew them in her garden, so we had them a lot…
However, once I got older, I started to cook Brussels Sprouts myself, and I fell in love with roasting them.
Your recipe sounds amazing. I’ll definitely make them your way soon! 🙂
I’m a brussels sprouts fan, and this sounds fantastic! I immediately bookmarked this page when I saw the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.
A tasty and interesting Chinese version of brussels sprouts.. for sure is so yummy 🙂
Brussel Sprouts! cool! I never had the courage to use it, but your recipe gives me the motivation to do so! thanx! 🙂
I have always braised them. Now a potentially new way to an adventure Brussel Sprouts…Wow! Agree Hoisin always makes things wonderful!
I love Brussels sprouts & I will have to because I live in Brussels, but I like to invent new recipes for them, every time they come in season!
I love your recipe a lot!! I think they are very underestimated in the world of cooking!
This looks great! And that photograph is beautiful. As I read your post and I kept agreeing with you every paragraph. I also grew up in an Asian household and never ate Brussels sprouts until I was an adult . . and I love them too! And I have still yet to try them with an Asian preparation. Thanks for sharing!
Brussels sprouts need love, too!
The reason they are maligned is because they are so often overcooked. They lose all their sweetness, emerald color, and that nutty taste, and the sulfury smell emerges. Trick is to bring them to peak green, then just a minute more.
I will have to try hoisin. And the bacon idea you mentioned is a great one! My favorite way is browned butter — it amplifies the nutty flavors.
Thank you for highlighting the underappreciated.
I have two clients who LOVE brussel sprouts and are I’m always looking for new ways to serve them. This sounds terrific and I will make it next week for sure.
We are a brussel-sprout-loving family. I just planted some in my garden, though we’ll be buying lots too. These sound utterly delicious. Bring on the fall vegetables!
This is DEFINITELY a winner! Hoisin, mirin and brussels sprouts–brilliant combination.
This is a tasty way to enjoy to brussels sprouts.
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Brussels sprouts is new to me, have not seen one..
I love Brussels sprouts now but growing up – not so much. Mainly because they always seemed to be cooked to a color that I found unnatural and definitely unappetizing.
I can’t believe I just came across this…. Brussels are one of our faves in this house, and you KNOW my love for Asian-flavored anything. So I think I know what I’m making for dinner tonight!
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Loved this! I did switch it up a bit. Instead of soy & hoisin, i finished with sriracha & lemon for some spicy/sour. Served them with some grilled chicken thighs over white rice – a perfect new take on a stir-fry!
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