Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Brussels Sprouts

The long dark evenings and cold weather of the winter solstice season call for flavorful warming food. Brussels sprouts are a staple in my kitchen at this time of year; always handy for a quick meal, they store well in the fridge, are simple to prepare, and are delicious when paired with aromatic vegetables such as sauteed ginger root and garlic. Select sprouts which are deep green, unblemished and compact. Smaller sprouts are preferred by European chefs; they cook quickly and are pleasing to the eye. Who can resist a spicy plate of "Choux de Bruxelles" on the darkest day of the year?

12 medium Brussels sprouts (roughly 2 cups) cut into halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
2 tablespoons fresh water
lemon juice

Place Brussels sprouts cut side down in a steamer basket and steam gently for about 6 or 7 minutes until tender but still bright green. Test with a toothpick; don't over cook! Remove from steamer basket and set aside in a covered bowl.
In a heavy pan saute ginger root, garlic and chile flakes in olive oil over a medium flame until fragrant. Add Brussels sprouts to pan and toss briefly. Combine tamari and water and pour over vegetables, stirring as steam arises. Remove from heat and serve immediately, sprinkled with a little lemon juice, or arrange on a plate to offer to guests with a toothpick in each half. Cook a double batch and enjoy the next day as a snack garnished with a few drops of toasted hot sesame oil.