Thursday, 18 December 2014

Brussels Sprouts in Oyster Sauce, Gula Granola, and yes it's Christmas



I am writing this before I get onto a plane headed for L.A., where I'm spending Christmas with the Boy's family. I promise to keep the gloating about Californian sunshine and kale to a minimum while I'm there, but WHEE.

This is likely the last post for the year of 2014, a ridiculous whirlwind of a year that has been nothing short of wonderful. I’ve spent a good part of this year visiting some parts of the world I’ve always wanted to visit; bummed around in Singapore a lot– held some popups and a kimchi workshop on a rooftop farm but mostly just tailed Mum in the kitchen; done a handful of art direction, food styling and illustration projects I’m really proud of; come back to London as a creative director for an organic company I like the values of; gone foraging and cooked up a storm for 50 with a dog and her chilli-crazed dad and done the same-ish in New York; and I still have a few things up my sleeves I can’t yet share but are pretty damn exciting.

Amidst all that, it has been crazy keeping up with the blog, so I’m very happily surprised to have people still check back. I’m definitely still blabbing on on this lil’ ol’ page. I know no one reads blogs anymore; there are too many words to scroll through and it is much more fun scrolling and salivating through food photos on instagram, but it is nice to be able to sit down and let your photos stretch beyond a square and your thoughts ramble beyond a tiny textbox.

Today’s rectangular photos and rambling thoughts are decidedly Christmassy.


There are two vegetables that almost have to be on the Christmas table: (roast) potatoes and Brussels sprouts. One is a universal favourite, while the other is a little tricky to swallow for some people. It’s the one with the bad reputation I have a recipe and a tip for today.

Scientists have found it is actually genetic, which must be a relief for Brussels sprout haters subjected to years of “ah you’ve just not had it the right way, let me introduce you to my recipe which I swear everyone loves”. I personally love the things and can pop them, simply steamed, into my mouth like popcorn, but I understand how annoying it must be; I feel the same every time I admit I hate macaroons, though it is probably not genetic in this case. (“Oh but have you tried the one at the original Pierre Herme store in Paris?” Yes I have.)

That said, I have a recipe here today for sprouts. I figured it would be a timely one, and it is quite likely the sprout-haters might need to serve the terrible things to others as part of festive tradition. For those who want to give them a go, here’s my top tip: Brussel sprouts need fat. Roast them in olive oil, slice them thinly and saute with butter, or fry them in chicken fat– any of this will help tame the acrid musky taste of these little brassicas.

Greens stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce is a very common dish found both in homes and on the streets of Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and any Southeast Asian country with a Chinese community. I figured why not do the same with these little buggers.




BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH SMASHED GARLIC & OYSTER SAUCE
Serves 2-4
Ingredients
250g Brussels sprouts
salt, for blanching
2 tbsp groundnut oil
8 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp good, traditionally fermented oyster sauce
1 tsp good fish sauce
1 tsp of unrefined light palm sugar or light brown sugar
60ml water

Method
1. Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts. Halve any large ones. Blanch them in a pot of boiling salted water till they turn bright green, about 20 seconds, then drain and set aside to air dry.
2. Smash the garlic with the flat side of your knife but leave them whole in their skins. Heat oil in a wok or a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until aromatic and golden.
3. Turn the heat up and add the Brussels sprouts. Stir-fry on high heat until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds. Add the water, bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. 

Serve hot, usually with rice of course but it could maybe go with potatoes and turkey too, just this once.

It's hard for vegetables not to taste good when tossed in a hot wok till smoky, savoury, salty, sweet and garlicky. I like to leave the garlic whole in their skins so that they don’t burn as easily; plus, I get the bonus of roasted garlic cloves. For those still not convinced, you could try using sprout tops which are more tender and akin to spring greens. This recipe is a versatile one not just for Brussels sprouts but most vegetables really, or even a mix of vegetables; just blanch the hardier ones first before tossing them into the wok.

~

More Christmas ideas:

Edible gift ideas:
Nyonya achar (spicy Peranakan vegetable pickle)



The best sort of presents are edible ;) This is a batch of organic granola I made with gula melaka, coconut oil and cinnamon last night. Gula melaka, for the uninitiated, is an unrefined dark coconut palm sugar that tastes like burnt toffee. Ho ho ho.

Recipe for those on the mailing list, get on it.



33 comments:

  1. WHEE for sure sunshine bound girl :) We were in LA last Christmas (thereabouts) and I fell hard...mid-day joggers, soft breezes and the sun warming every inch of our bodies. Mid-70s, glorious temperate climate. Scrumptious food to match (really liked the vibe and the food at Industriel Urban Farm Cuisine - a spot we just happened upon) -- in brief, I know you will love your trip! I'm excited for you and these brussels sprouts sound amazing. It never occurred to me to enjoy them with a fish/oyster or shrimp sauce -- I think that's brilliant. I'm so with you on the edible gifties too! Burnt toffee you say? Must find me so gula :). Merry Christmas et Bon Voyage Shu Han! xx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that Kelly! I think sprouts pair really well with salty funky sauces, brings out their natural bitter-sweetness. Of course I may be biased because I would add fish sauce to everything if I could. And definitely find yourself some gula! A simple syrup made from it taste like toffee - instant flavour poured over desserts. Plus unrefined so marginally better for you ;) I'm now even more excited for the trip after hearing all that! Will try to get to Industriel Urban Farm Cuisine if I can, just googled it and it sounds amazing. xx

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  2. that granola looks yum! I love the way you have done the Brussels sprouts - I think pan frying them makes them so tasty. Will have to try them with oyster sauce :) Have a super break and Christmas!

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    Replies
    1. Cheers Tandy! I think with sprouts you have to be careful not to overcook them and so my preference is always for high heat and quick cooking- stir-fry is perfect. My mate who's a chef like to pop them on the grill. Have a merry christmas xx

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  3. This looks amazing!! I am loving brussels sprouts right now!

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    Replies
    1. Haha wow that's not something I hear often. Hi 5 fellow sprouts lover!

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  4. I am too a fan of brussels sprouts! This looks light, and very tasty.
    Have a wonderful holiday season, Shu Han!
    Angie

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  5. Why is the brussels sprout sad? :D

    I'm like you - I like them a lot, but especially when they're crunchy... No mushy crap here please. Nothing is worse than over-boiled green veg like broccoli or sprouts. Bleurgh!

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  6. I remember frowny face brussels sprout! I think it's wonderful to dress this up in Asian flavors--I must try this soon!

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    Replies
    1. haha. Yes this would be totally up your alley!

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  7. Have a great trip Shu! Jealous, I should plan a Christmas in a warm place too next year...but for this year is home in Venice and that's great just so. No brussels sprouts for Italians though – we go for radicchio. Yet, if I'd do anything to the humble sprout, it would definitely be drenching it in this sauce. Yum! x

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    Replies
    1. Venice sounds like an amazing place to be for Christmas, and most importantly, with your family. Radicchio! The Italians just gotta do it different (better) eh! Hope you had a great Christmas Valeria, catch up in the new year x

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  8. Hi Shu Han, Merry Christmas to you. Enjoy your trip to LA.
    Your brussels sprout look inviting, great for diet. :))

    Happy holiday, warm regards.
    Amelia

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  9. Dear Shu Han, you would convince the biggest Brussels sprouts hater with this lovely dish. I hope you are spending wonderful holidays in the US and wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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    Replies
    1. Yay :D I hope so. I had a great time in the US. Happy New Year Sissi! Looking forward to more great stuff from you in 2015 xx

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  10. I'm very late with this comment but I hope you are having a fab time in California. Soo jealous. :) As for the brussels sprouts, they look delicious. I'm not a hater but it's always good to find some new inspiration. Happy New Year!

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    Replies
    1. Never too late Caz :) I had a great time in California, though must say it was too short- I haven't properly explored the place yet so I guess I'll just have to go back one day! Glad you liked the sprouts recipe. That time of the year everyone's frantically searching brussels recipes haha. Happy New Year to you too!

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  11. Hey, is there any way I could get the gula granola recipe even though I just joined the mailing list today? Please please pretty pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease? :-)

    -- Preeta

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    Replies
    1. Of course, and thanks for joining, whee! Just sent it :)

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  12. Fab recipe for sprouts, absolutely essential on the festive table with the roast potatoes, lovely little drawing!

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  13. looks great and they are still in season

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  14. Oyster sauce looks prefect for Brussels Sprouts, you looks too young to cook, but I think you are a good chef.

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    Replies
    1. Haha thanks Yan I'm older than I look ;)

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  15. Hello Shu Han, would you be able to share your Gula granola recipe. It looks really yummy

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