I love to cook, though you wouldn’t know from the lackluster effort I’ve made in maintaining The Crafty Cook Nook this summer. Life with a rapidly more mobile infant has meant on-call vigilance every minute she’s awake. While I agonized about SIDS, checking her crib often during her naps and overnight sleep, I had no idea that as soon as SIDS risk diminished, I’d be eying every room in the house for potential dangers. Coffee table corners never look as menacing as when a fragile baby’s head bobs within their range.
July zoomed by before I had much time to share recipes. Fortunately I managed to try a few new food experiments worth space on the blog, like today’s Yotam Ottolenghi-inspired Brussels Sprouts and Tofu, a nod to Asian cuisine with its use of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and shiitake mushrooms.
Cameron and I tend to keep our Brussels sprouts recipes simple, roasting them slowly in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the occasional addition of maple syrup. Frying Brussels sprouts for this recipe seemed decadent and unnecessary, but I was committed to following the instructions as accurately as possible since I would be sharing the finished product at a Cookbook Club dinner that showcased Yotam Ottolenghi’s well-known and well-loved vegetarian book, Plenty.
Unsurprisingly fried Brussels sprouts are delicious, crisp and melty. Pair them with crisped fried tofu and toss with meaty shiitakes and palate-cleansing green onions and cilantro, and you have yourself a surprisingly balanced main course. And the sauce? You’ll want to double or triple this sweet, mildly spicy sauce to save as a topping for stir fries.
– 4 TBS sweet chile sauce
– 3 TBS soy sauce
– 6 TBS toasted sesame oil
– 2 tsp rice vinegar
– 2 TBS maple syrup
– 10 oz firm tofu
– 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
– About 1 cup sunflower oil, for frying
– 2 cup sliced green onions
– 1 small fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
– 3 cups shitake mushrooms, halved or quartered
– 2 cups cilantro leaves
– 1 TBS toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a bowl whisk together the chile sauce, soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of the sesame oil, the vinegar, and the maple syrup. Set aside.
2. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slices and then slice each again into 2 square pieces, gently toss with the marinade and set aside.
3. Trim the bases off the sprouts and cut each from top to bottom in 3 thick slices. Add 4 TBS of the sunflower oil to a large nonstick pan and heat well. Gently place half the sprouts in the pan with a little salt and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl once the sprouts are almost burned in a few places and cooked through but still crunchy. Repeat with more oil, salt and the rest of the sprouts.
4. Add 4 more TBS of sunflower oil to the pan, heat up and sauté the green onions, chile and mushrooms for about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the sprouts bowl.
5. Leave the pan on high heat. Transfer the tofu pieces from the marinade into the pan, spacing them apart and in one layer. Reduce the flame to medium and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until they get a nice caramelized color. Transfer to the sprout bowl and repeat for the rest of the tofu.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and return all the cooked ingredients to it. Add the remaining tofu marinade and half the cilantro leaves. Toss everything together and allow to cool down slightly in the pan. Add salt to taste. Stir in the remaining sesame oil, and garnish with the rest of the cilantro leaves and sesame seeds (if using).