Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s the one meal I get really excited about cooking. I usually spend a day planning the menu, a couple of days prepping the ingredients, and several hours cooking in the kitchen. Aside from the turkey or ham that is central to the meal, there are side dishes that my family looks forward to every year: roasted Brussels sprouts, savory pain de mie stuffing, cauliflower gratin, among others. My family raves about how yummy everything tastes and it puts a smile on my face. Cooking is a true labor of love.
But cooking a Thanksgiving meal wasn’t always easy or fun for me. I remember my humble beginnings, cooking my first Thanksgiving meal back when I was in junior high. My immediate family and my Korean neighbors (there were a total of 20 guests) were excited about their first traditional Thanksgiving dinner…only to learn the centerpiece of the meal was missing from dinner table. I completely miscalculated the cooking time of a 22 lb. turkey and it still had a couple more hours left to cook in the oven when everyone arrived. Since my guests were hungry, they ate the stuffing, candied yams, and mashed potatoes while the turkey was still roasting. A couple of guests even ran back to their places and brought over some rice, kimchee and several ban chan for the table. When the turkey finally came out of the oven, it ended up being dry and pretty bland, a major disappointment after such a long wait. I felt awful and vowed to never make the same mistake again. Next year, the turkey was ready early!
As we ramp up for Thanksgiving this year, I will be posting a couple of my favorite side dishes. Here is a great Brussels sprouts dish with an Asian twist. It is flavorful, has a hint of heat and different layers of texture. This will be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table.
Fried Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Asian Dressing
Serving Size: 6-8 as a side dish
2 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (Three Crabs brand)
2 tablespoons of organic sugar
1 teaspoon of Asian chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cups of vegetable oil (sunflower oil)
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, quartered
¼ cup of toasted sliced almonds
1. In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, chili paste, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce thickens a bit (about 5 minutes).
2. Remove the sauce from heat, add the lemon juice and set aside to cool.
3. Place 2 cups of oil in a wok or a deep fryer. Bring the temperature to 275°.
4. Add all the shallots at once and fry for about 8-10 minutes or until the shallots are golden brown.
5. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and place in a colander lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside.
6. Increase the heat of the oil to 350°.
7. Add ¼ of the Brussels sprouts to the oil and fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a colander lined with paper towels. Repeat this process 3 more times. (Make sure you bring the oil temperature back to 350° each time before adding the Brussels sprouts.)
8. Transfer all the fried Brussels sprouts to a large bowl. Add the toasted almonds.
9. Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce and toss to coat. Taste to see if it needs more sauce. If so, add one more tablespoon of the sauce and toss to coat.