“In The Green Road [by Anne Enright], the sprouts burn on Christmas Day, and Rosaleen reassures everyone that it doesn’t really matter, as no one likes them anyway,” recalls food writer Kate Young. “For me, that couldn’t be less true – they’re one of my favourite things on the Christmas table. In terms of cooking, I have to say, better a little burnt than over-boiled.
“Sprouts contain high levels of sulforaphane, which will make them taste like rotten eggs when cooked for too long. Avoid boiling them at all, if you can – young, tender sprouts cooked in a pan to a light char, like they are here, will be sweet and nutty and delicious. You want them ‘green as if they had just come from the garden’, as they are in The Country Child.”
Crisp Brussels sprouts
- Large frying pan
- 800 g Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- Handful of parsley leaves
- 1 red chilli deseeded and finely sliced
- Clean the Brussels sprouts, pull off any grim outer leaves, and trim the stem. Slice in half through the base. Warm a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Pour in the sesame oil and, once hot, add the sprouts. Cook for six to eight minutes (depending on their size) until the sprouts are tender on the inside, and crisp and charred in places on the outside.
- Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, fish sauce and vinegar together in a bowl. Take the sprouts off the heat, add the dressing and toss. Top with the sesame seeds, parsley and chilli and serve immediately.
The Little Library Christmas by Kate Young is published by Head of Zeus. Photography by Lean Timms.
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