Good Food Blog
Causing a stinkPosted at 11:50AM, 05 December 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
It's that time of year again - when we have to start boiling the sprouts ready for Christmas lunch. No, I'm only kidding. Slightly.
Once we're in the run-up to Christmas, sprouts become part of the marital obligation
My husband loves Brussels sprouts, and I do not. Growing up in the Australian sun means I do an extremely good job of ignoring their existence most of the time, but once we're in the run-up to Christmas they become part of the marital obligation. This has been made clear to me in previous years, so I keep an eye out for recipes that might help me score points without turning each dinner into a trial.
First up was a raw Brussels sprout salad with walnuts, lemon and parmesan, which as I'm sure you will have guessed straight off was not a huge hit with the man who just wants them boiled and tossed in butter. Very, very thin slices are the key to making this recipe work - I did them in the food processor and they were still a bit too heavy-going. Also, with all those nuts and cheese, it's more of a starter than a side dish.
New York chef David Chang of Momofuku and Ssam bar has caused quite a stir amongst bloggers and restaurant critics with his Korean takes on Brussels sprouts - roasted and served with bacon and kimchee , or deep-fried and sprinkled with a punchy dressing of fish sauce, mint and chillies . Of course few people these days can be bothered dragging out the deep-fryer (not even to disguise the taste of Brussels sprouts), so they've quickly come up with an alternative roasted version.
For the first time this year I've cooked sprout tops - the top bundle of leaves from the stalks on which Brussels sprouts grow. They taste sweeter and milder than sprouts, so to my mind are much, much nicer. Really a different vegetable altogether. They look a bit like an old lady's corsage and commonly used to be lopped off and thrown away - but not anymore!
At our farmers' market they're currently selling for 40p each - that's one serving - while a whole stalk of Brussels is only £1, and a massive Savoy cabbage that could serve six or eight is 60p. I'm not sure if that's the growers taking advantage of us naïve townies again or simply the fashion factor. In any case, beware trendy vegetables when you're watching the household budget.
Plenty of men proudly strut home from the market with a long stalk of Brussels on their shoulder - David looks at them enviously and I expect I'll have to give in this weekend. But look at the size of the things! How am I going to get through all of those?