Oct 24 2011

Brussels Pout

My dad hates Brussels sprouts to the same degree that I love them.  Back in college I gave him a note-card printed with a pouty baby sitting in front of a bowl of sprouts, entitled "Brussels Pout".  That sums up my dad's feelings very accurately. (If there were a similar card that summed up my feelings, it would be of a happy baby clapping, titled 'Brussels Shout!')  When my parents visited a few weeks ago, we grabbed dinner at Thistle Hill Tavern.  I ordered my usual vegan burger and salt & pepper fries (the best fries around, by the way) and started my meal with a Brussels sprout appetizer.  Needless to say, my dad didn't reach over and spear one.

Unfortunately, I  haven't seen many bins overflowing with Brussels sprouts at the farmers' market (yet).  Given the havoc Hurricane Irene reaped on the Northeast last month, I don't know if Brussels will be that prevalent this Fall. But if farmers are selling them at your market, and you're a huge fan like I am, I have the perfect recipe for you.

We've already made this dish twice--using sprouts from Whole Foods--and were wowed both times.  On paper and in pictures it looks like a stir fry, but in reality, the taste is much more complicated and complete than that. Despite my limited meat-eating, I'm not a fan of tofu or seitan or any other meat substitute.  However, if all tofu tasted like the tofu in this dish, I'd be much more inclined to eat it!

Before starting anything else, you cut up the tofu and let it marinate in a sweet chile, soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and maple syrup concoction. The resulting taste is addictively sweet.   Besides the incredible tofu and crispy sprouts, the other amazing thing about this dish is that it's a true one-pot meal.  You use a large skillet to cook everything, one ingredient after another.

Justin and I finished our leftovers for lunch yesterday and I'm now wishing I hadn't eaten every last bit.  Sprouts and tofu would make the perfect afternoon snack right now!

Brussels Sprouts and Tofu

Adapted from Plenty

Serves 4-5


1 cup of rice

2 tablespoons sweet chile sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

5 oz firm tofu

1 lb Brussels sprouts

3/4 cup of sunflower oil


1 cup sliced green onions

1/2 small red chile, deseeded and chopped finely

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (shiitake work well here), halved and quartered


*Get your rice cooking as soon as you're done organizing and laying out your ingredients!  If the timing works out as intended, the rice will finish at around the time the vegetables are done.*

1)  In a bowl, whisk together the chile sauce, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, the vinegar, and the maple syrup.  Cut the tofu block into 3/8 inch slices and then each of those slices into two square pieces.  Place the tofu into the marinade and gently mix.  Set aside.

2)  Cut the sprouts from top to bottom into three slices.  Heat up 2.5-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Working in batches, add 1/3rd of the sprouts, along with a little bit of salt.  Cook on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring very little.  You want the sprouts to cook through but remain crunchy.  Remove the first batch to a bowl and repeat with the second batch, adding more oil with each batch.

3)  Add 2 more tablespoons of sunflower oil to the pan and saute the green onions, chile and mushrooms for 1-2 mints.  Transfer them to the same bowl as the Brussels sprouts.

4)  Leave the pan on high heat.  Using tongs, lift half of the tofu pieces from their marinade and lay them in the pan.  Space them apart (and be sure none are stacked).  Cook for 2 minutes on each side unlit their off-white color turns to a brownish-caramel tint.  Transfer the tofu to the sprout bowl and repeat with the next batch of tofu.

5)  When all of the tofu has been cooked, turn the heat off and return all of the ingredients to the pan.  Add the remaining tofu marinade from the bowl.  Toss everything together and season with salt as needed.  Serve over hot rice.  Enjoy!