Don’t run away! I realize brussel sprouts are not the most popular food item with a lot of people. I was one of those people. I am not a picky eater but I was not inclined to buy or order anything with brussel sprouts. To me, they are like mini cabbages, and cooked cabbage was on my short list of foods I avoided. My brother, who is an amazing cook, made brussel sprouts at Christmas that were really tasty. He combined them with bacon and cheese, so why wouldn’t they be good? I guess you could say that dish opened the sprout door for me.
Recently I went to dinner at Sunda with my good friend, Mary. Sunda is a very hip, very loud, Asian inspired restaurant. We mainly dined on sushi but asked the waitress if there was anything else on the menu that we needed to try. She said her favorite thing was a brussel sprout salad. She promised that we would not be disappointed, so we went for it. We were both shocked at how delicious it was. It was a combination of finely shredded brussel sprouts, napa cabbage and carrots tossed in a Nuoc Chom dressing. It was topped with fried shallots and roasted shrimp. Needless to say there were no leftovers and I had determined that I wanted to try to replicate it. Considering I had never even purchased brussel sprouts before that was saying something.
I can’t say that my version of the salad is exactly like what we had at Sunda, but it was close! My version is pretty light, aside from the fried shallots. I think Sunda probably hid something fattening in their salad to make it extra delicious. That is usually the case at restaurants.
I had to do a little research on the fried shallots. To be honest, I had never deep fried anything. I would like to say that is because I like to eat healthy food, and that is mainly true, but I just can’t stand the thought of having my house smell like fried food. I live in a small one bedroom condo, so I have to think about these things. Alas, the fried shallots really made the salad special so I was determined to have them on my version.
The Perfect Pairing for this salad is an outdoor burner to fry the shallots. Problem solved! I was able to fry them up without the unfortunate aromatic side effects. I recently bought a new grill at Home Depot and one of the selling points was the side burner. I was not sure why I needed that… but I needed it. The grill was only $199! Sold! Until I found out the delivery fee of the unassembled grill was practically 30% of the total cost. What is a girl to do? Well, she sweet talks her boyfriend into dragging the assembled grill a half mile from the store on a busy Chicago street. See below for proof. You might ask why I am holding bolt cutters. My old grill came with the condo and was locked up with a chain. The previous owners had long forgotten the padlock code so I had to cut it off.
Asian Inspired Brussel Sprout Salad
Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing
· 1 lb of brussel sprouts, ends removed and shredded
· 1 head of Napa cabbage, shredded
· 1 large carrot, shredded
· 5 Tb sugar
· 3 Tb water
· 1/3 cup fish sauce
· ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
· 1 large garlic clove, smashed
· 1 or more Thai chiles, chopped (can also use birds eye or jalapeno)
· 8 shallots, peeled and sliced into rings
· ¼ cup flour
· Vegetable oil for frying
· Grilled or roasted shrimp, chopped (optional)
Combine the shredded brussel sprouts, cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
Combine the sugar, water, fish sauce and lime juice in a small bowl. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the smashed garlic clove and chopped chiles. Taste for seasoning. Set aside to develop flavor.
Add 1 inch of oil to a pan, heat over high heat (preferably on an outdoor burner). Toss the shallot rings with flour until coated. Once the oil is hot add one shallot to test the temperature, it should start bubbling immediately. If the oil is hot add the remaining shallots and fry until golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Season generously with salt while still warm.
Heat 1 to 2 Tb of oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add about 2/3 of the salad mixture to the pan and stir fry until just warm and starting to wilt. Add back to the raw salad and stir to combine.
Toss salad with dressing, starting with a small amount, adding dressing until you like the flavor and texture. If using, add chopped shrimp to the salad, top with fried shallots.