What's with the childhood stereotype that brussels sprouts are icky? I've never understood that. I don't think my mom even made brussels sprouts for us, but it is inherently ingrained into children that brussels sprouts are gross.
However, if you've tasted brussels sprouts roasted at a high heat, well seasoned, slightly charred and crispy on the outside, and perfectly soft on the inside then you know how good they can be. This recipe combines the perfect roast with a Vietnamese inspired spicy-sweet sauce, giving these veggies a little kick and pizzaz.
I learned some things about this sauce while trying to name this dish. At first I was going to call it "Southeast Asian Roasted Brussels Sprouts," but upon researching the ingredients, realized I could specify it more distinctly to Vietnamese. Even though the company Huy Fong (who make both the chili paste and Sriracha) is named after a Taiwanese freighter and made popular in Los Angeles' Chinatown, the guy who invented the sauces is Vietnamese. Fish sauce is used in a variety of southeastern Asian countries, with Vietnam being one of them. A little geography to go with your side dish!
Vietnamese Roasted Brussels Sprouts
serves four as a side
- 1 lb brussels sprouts
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp chili paste
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Sriracha
Preheat the oven to 425º. Peel off any outer leaves of your brussels sprouts that look like they're browning or hanging off the edge. Cut brussels in half. Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange on a baking sheet, cut side down. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes. A fork should go through them, but with a little effort (they should not be mushy).
While the brussels sprouts are roasting, make your sauce. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust according to your preference. Fish sauce is very salty, so if you want the sauce sweeter, add a little more sugar and potentially less fish sauce. If you like spicy, increase the chili paste and/or Sriracha.
Just before you are about to serve, toss the brussels sprouts in the sauce. You don't want your brussels sitting in sauce for too long, otherwise they start to get soggy, and no one likes that. Tilt the bowl you are using to dress your brussels to see if there is a pool of sauce at the bottom. If there is, carefully remove the extra sauce either by draining it or spooning it out.