I love it when recipe ideas spring out of casual conversation. Last weekend, when meeting up with my friends Melissa and Jon, they mentioned they had been making the Kung Pao Chicken from my cookbook on a regular basis. And even using the sauce for stir-frying other things, like brussels sprouts.
Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts? What a genius idea. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Every time I have a craving for brussels sprouts, which is often, my MO is to just roast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I never thought to give them the Sichuan treatment. But it seemed perfect: the crispiness of roasted brussels sprouts would go so well with the tangy-savory sauce, the chilis, and crunchy peanuts.
I started off by roasting the brussels sprouts in the oven for about 20 minutes. Then I stir-fried the dried red chilis, scallions, ginger, and garlic like I would for kung pao chicken. The sauce had to be adjusted just a bit, to account for not needing to marinate the main ingredient. The brussels sprouts got tossed into the pan at the very end, for only about 1 minute or less, just long enough to coat them with sauce and the peanuts. The result is perfectly cooked brussels sprouts with beautifully golden and crispy outsides, accented with an addictive kung pao sauce.
They’re great as a vegetable side if you’re serving a multi-course meal. Or you could do what I did, which was just sitting down and eating an entire bowl for lunch. (You can do it too. Nobody’s watching.)
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half length-wise
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 8 to 10 dried red chilis
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
- ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once the oven is hot enough, roast for 20 minutes, until the outside leaves are golden and crispy and the insides are cooked through.
- Prepare the sauce: In small bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and Sichuan pepper. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the chilis and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the chilis have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant. Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Return the brussels sprouts to the pan, add the peanuts, and pour in the sauce. Stir just until the brussels sprouts are well coated, about 30 to 60 seconds. Quickly transfer to a large bowl or plate and serve.