So anyone who attended or even read about the Outstanding in the Field Community Table dinner at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival will know that the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ponzu Fried Garlic, Guanciale, and Bonito Flakes by Chef Dennis Lee of Namu restaurant in San Francisco was one of the favourite dishes of the many fabulous offerings. Here’s my photo from the dinner:
Chef Dennis generously shared his recipe last week with the Foodbuzz community and I just happened to need a side dish for a main Neil was cooking (teriyaki salmon in phyllo pastry) and wondered if I could even come close to Chef Dennis’s creation.
Below is the recipe with my substitutions (did not have time to get to an Asian grocers this week) in italics.
4-5 Brussels Sprouts per person (or, you know, more. Once you have had these, you will eat way more than this…)
1.Quarter the heads or globes so the roots stay intact keeping the leaves together.
2.Blanch. Always blanch in a large pot (large enough that it won’t stop boiling when you drop the sprouts into it) of water with a healthy dose of salt (2-3 tblsp). While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath (50% ice and 50% water by volume; you can eyeball this).
3. Boil the sprouts until they turn bright green, then immediately shock them in the ice bath. This can be done up to a day in advance and the sprouts can be stored, in the refrigerator covered.
1.Cube the guanciale to desired size (remember it will slightly shrink). Chef Dennis likes them just bigger than the size of an m&m.
2. Boil the guanciale in a pot large enough to hold it with about an inch and half of water higher than the meat. bring to a boil and simmer until soft. Much of the fat will render, but the flavor will remain rich and the texture is heavenly. Drain and discard the liquid. This can also be done in advance and stored in a refrigerator. OK, I did not have time to do this but am including it anyway since it is the way Chef Dennis makes the dish. I simply fried the cubed bacon and drained it (it’s pretty fatty).
Fried garlic: You can mince and fry this yourself on the stove in a pan with enough oil (neutral oil, i.e. rice, canola, grapeseed) to coat the garlic. Fry over low heat until the garlic starts to brown, remove with metal screen strainer (it will continue to brown) and place on paper towel and spread to cool with a spoon or chopsticks.
Ponzu: 4oz. This can also be bought in an Asian grocer. If you want to make your own, its 2 parts dashi stock, 1 part soy, 1 part rice vinegar and citrus juice to taste (Meyer Lemon juice or Yuzu juice works great). I made my own version of this using 2 parts mushroom stock, 1 part rice vinegar, 1 part soy and some lime juice.
Soy dashi: 4oz (bonito, konbu, soy water) or instant dashi or tsuyu (liquid dashi concentrate sold in Asian grocers). I used mushroom stock here.
Shichimi or Togarashi spice. I used 5-spice powder for this.
Bonito flakes. Not having any of these on hand (they are fish flakes), we used some chili flakes , thinking that the texture would work and that the extra taste kick might be nice.
The Brussels Sprouts can either be roasted or pan fried. I pan fried them which is how Chef Dennis recommends cooking them.
1. Put 1 tbsp butter in a pan coated with EVOO. When butter melts, add guanciale and brussels sprouts. Put the pan on high and stir fry the ingredients. You want to get a nice brown color on the leaves of the sprouts, with some crispiness. The guanciale will also crisp up a little on the surface like bacon.
3. Let this reduce to desired flavor, making sure to regularly toss the sprouts.
4. Top with shichimi, fried garlic and bonito flakes. The flakes will dance with joy.
Below: Chef Dennis Lee’s dish (Photo Credit: Jesse Friedman)
Verdict? Well whilst these were definitely not Chef Dennis’s out of this world version, they were pretty darn good. In fact one of our guests revealed (after she had finished her plate!) that she does not like or eat Brussels sprouts yet she inhaled her portion. “They don’t taste like Brussels sprouts at all!!” she proclaimed. High praise indeed! I am not a Brussels sprouts fan either – when I was little, I thought all they were good for was as lettuces for my Barbies! – but recently I have eaten some versions that are staring to make me change my mind.
What I loved was that with a bit of help from Google, I managed to recreate this dish pretty faithfully using ingredients I had on hand in about 30 minutes on a Friday evening. Couldn’t ask for much better than that!
I will be making these again with all the correct ingredients. Thank you so much Chef Dennis for sharing this recipe. It will surely change people’s opinion of this much maligned vegetable!
Lauren, my Foodbuzz Festival and Bertolli On the Menu buddy also made these on the weekend – you can check out her recipe here!