The famous Foodbuzz festival brussels sprouts!

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.

Guanciale: 1/4 pound, or however much you like depending on your penchant for pork
. I used our home-cured bacon which is pretty salty so probably used just under 1/4 pound.

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.

(Note – as Chef Dennis says, they also sell wonderful fried garlic in Asian markets in a jar).

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.

2. Once everything is nicely browned, add ponzu and soy dashi. Be careful as the pan will be very hot and sizzle when you add the wet ingredients.

My sprouts did not crisp up as much as I would have wanted them to but after I let them reduce with the wet ingredients, it started to look a little more like it should…

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)

And now… Mine:

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!

36 thoughts on “The famous Foodbuzz festival brussels sprouts!”

  1. That is so awesome that you got the recipe. I have seen many people boast about these brussel sprouts. I can't wait to give them a try. Thanks.

  2. Oh this looks great – I just cooked with brussel sprouts for the first time and they definitely didn't come out this good!

  3. I love brussel sprouts, and this dish has made me swoon a little. I have no excuses not to make it either, with a giant Asian supermarket about 2 minutes walk from my house!

  4. yum! I love Brussels sprouts, but I have to agree that these don't even taste like Brussels at all. So good!! My husband devoured his last night. 5spice power was a good cal at the end.

  5. I've heard so much about this dish and have been seeing Brussel sprouts, well, sprouting all over the food blogosphere! I'd love to try out the recipe as I don't usually eat this particular veg. (BTW, they look like mini cabbage in the one photo at top!) Thanks for showing your substitutions – it helps to know what to do in a pinch.

  6. Poor old Brussels Sprouts. I actually LIKE them. But you can't boil the kapooie out of them or they'll be awful. So would I! This looks like a great recipe for them. Thank for posting it and helping to dispel the unearned bad reputation of these little guys…

  7. These brussels sprouts look so good! Bacon goes so well with them, and the ponzu and dashi is such an intriguing addition. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I've recently begun eating brussels sprouts myself. These look delicious. (Isn't it amazing how they taste when they're not boiled to death? – Thanks mom)

  9. Thanks so much for this! Will have to try the recipe out, I dream about those brussel sprouts from time to time (TMI?)

    – Alison

  10. I've been hearing all about these Brussels sprouts… Would have been worth the trip to San Fran just for these, huh? Glad you shared them with us… I'll have to give them a try!

  11. I think I used to pretend that brussels sprouts were miniature lettuce heads for my Barbies too, HA. I may try this recipe sometime — Thanks for the report!

  12. Pegasus legend – they are!

    Divina – I can't believe you can't get them…

    Joan – I think EVERYONE loved them and yes, the tables were very long and winding!

    Miranda – you should

    Simply Life – try these.

    Lynne – I am sure you will manage!

    Conor – after you get back from Bali, right? 😉

    LK – yours looked great too

    Lorraine – you would definitely love these I think!

    Shannon – try them try them!

    Tangled Noodle – I am glad the substitutions worked out

    Kate – you will love these

    Fresh Local – all these ingredients work so well together..

    Laura, Best Family – this WILL change your mind!

    My Man's belly – LOL!

    Alison – No, they are dreamworthy, for sure!

    Jen – DO try them

    Natalie – memories…

    Shelly – Well Barbie's gotta have her lettuce too!

  13. I am not a fan of brussels at all. Not even with all the bacon and cheese in the world. But I should try again with this recipe. It may work?

  14. Nice recreation! There will be brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving today, but no one really knows how to say guanciale, so that might be left out. 🙂 Mmmmm brussels!

  15. Ravenous Couple – thanks! And definitely – don't know anyone who didn't like them.

    Kitchen M – never heard of guanciale either – figured bacon was a great substitute!

  16. OK, grrr, this is why I like to wing it and cook "based on" recipes. I made the brussels sprouts as per the recipe (almost — also subbed applewood bacon), and I was also frustrated by my lack of browning, so I popped my pan under the broiler for a bit and then reduced the liquid separately for a while before combining (because this is going to get reheated for Thanksgiving). The recipe is terrifically tasty, but it ended up taking all night. Next time, I'm doing the Mardi version. Oh, also, I want to bring a roasted root veggie dish, but want to get them to crisp a bit. My trial run wasn't crisp at all. Anyone have a great recipe/method? And the dang beets bled all over everything.

  17. Carrie – you tried the recipe!!! YAY! Sorry it didn't turn out so great but you should def try again. Should not take all night.

    Re: the roasted root veggies, in my experience they're all a little but soggy – I have no idea how to make sure they are crispy unless perhaps you par-boiled them and then deep fried them…

  18. Hi Dawn, thanks for your comment. We're off to Paris on Dec 18th! Then Brittany on Dec 26th! Can't wait!

  19. I made Dennis's original foodbuzz festival version last night. Living in SF I was lucky enough to get all of the ingredients. Made my own Ponzu and got delicious Guancale from Golden Gate Meats in the Ferry Building.
    My results sound like yours…not quite as good as the original. They weren't crispy enough after adding the ponzu and tsuyu. I think I would use have of the amount of liquid next time. I don't think it would sacrifice the flavor and maybe they would come out with a crispier texture. Did you figure out what you might do differently? I would love to hear since I plan to make them again tomorrow night for a group. Thanks! Susan aka obparker – fbz aka sslopes – twitter


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