Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint

Posted in Vegetables by Paul Gauche on April 19, 2010

Brussels Sprouts used to conjure up memories of sitting at the table long after everyone else had gone off to homework, a good book or even sleep while the words “You’ll sit there until you eat every last one of those vegetables!” lingered in the air. Now, thanks to my mother’s reverse psychology, i.e. “Oh, don’t even try these–you won’t like this…” I can’t seem to get enough of them and the only thing that lingers in the air is the aroma (!?) of these small cabbage-like sprouts that were said to have been cultivated in 16th century Belgium after a brief (4 minute) steam. You can avoid that ‘funky smell’ in your kitchen by roasting the brussels sprouts instead of steaming. See that process below…

Ingredients ~

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
  • ¼ teaspoon togarashi (see Note) or cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Asian fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red chile, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped mint
  • 1 pound (4 cups) roasted or boiled brussels sprouts (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise


In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the Rice Krispies and togarashi and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 30 seconds. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, water, sugar, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and chile and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cilantro and mint.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until nearly smoking. Add the brussels sprouts; cook over high heat, stirring, until charred in spots and heated through, about 5 minutes. It’s been said that the key to this creation is to almost burn the brussels sprouts. The charring along with the sauce makes these really delectable. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Just before serving, sprinkle the Rice Krispies on top and serve immediately.

Note: Togarashi, a Japanese blend of chiles and sesame, is available at Asian markets.

Roasting Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients ~

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method ~

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.


Chinese Minced Chicken Wraps

Posted in Appetizers & Hors d'œuvres,Chicken by Paul Gauche on April 8, 2010

Saang Choy Bao

I’ve got dozens of past issues of the beautiful food magazine Saveur on a bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks in our home. In the spirit of reuse, renew and recycle, I decided to pull out an issue from last spring to see what sparked my imagination. In an article entitled “The Ice Queen: The rise, fall, and rise of America’s favorite lettuce, by Irene Sax, I stumbled upon this recipe for these lettuce wraps. For anyone who’s ever been to P.F. Chang’s and fell in love with their lettuce wraps, you know the hunt is on for that recipe. This one is real close. It’s delicious.  While at the grocery store–the one that’s carpeted throughout (you know which one!), I stood in the produce section with the regular lettuce in one hand and the organic lettuce in the other. The organic was about $1.50 more than the regular. I splurged, helped a farmer, and tasted the difference. Organic lettuce is the perfect choice for these wraps. So… I made this for dinner on Thursday night so that you could make it for dinner on Friday night.

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • ½ cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 – 1 ounce package dried Shiitake mushrooms, softened in hot water, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped; the green part of 1 julienned onion for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 16 iceberg lettuce leaves
  • Sweet Asian chile sauce

Put the chicken, cashews, mushrooms, and chopped green onions into a bowl.  Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, wine, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Pour over the chicken; toss. Let this marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic; cook for 10 seconds. Add the chicken mixture and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. To serve, spoon some of the chicken onto each lettuce leaf. Garnish with the julienned scallions and a small dollop of the chile sauce.

Serves 4

This recipe originated with Bee Yin Low, who writes the blog and appeared in the May 2009 issue of Saveur Magazine, Issue #120, page 81.