Sunday, November 22, 2009
I was one of many people who absolutely fell in love with this brussel sprouts dish that was served at Foodbuzz festival dinner by Namu chefs. I took some pictures of the dish specifically to remember how it looked like and to capture what was in it so that I could try duplicating it at home. And guess what? Foodbuzz people liked it so much that they asked Namu chef to share the recipe with us! How wonderful!
As simple as the recipe sounds, some ingredients can be hard to find. For instance, Guanciale. What the heck is guanciale? I had never heard such a word before. Apparently it’s pork jaw meat. I looked it up on google image. #X@&%!?!! It was so disgustingly white as in 80% fat and 20% meat… Okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit. But knowing what goes in your body sometime is a good thing. Ignorance is not always bliss.
Well, I actually felt better after reading the recipe, which said to boil the cut guanciale before tossing and cooking with brussel sprouts. And as much as I thought about cooking it without guanciale, I knew that it was quite essential part of flavoring the dish, I decided to perhaps reduce the amount.
I stopped by Fatted Calf, an artisanal charcuterie in Napa after work on Friday. I browsed around their beautiful meats over the shiny glass showcase. After I looked through every meat that was displayed, I asked a shop staff for guanciale. He said that they usually carry it, but apparently they run out that item that day as if all the Foodbuzz bloggers in the neighborhood bought it out or something. So I asked him what would be the closest cut available, and he told me that nothing comes close since the flavor is so different from any other parts of a pig. I was a bit disappointed. Now what do I do?
I tried Whole Foods too, but of course their answer was no. Actually their meat department said that they never even heard of guanciale. So, I gave up and bought some bacon slices instead. It looks similar… kind of.
Namu chef suggested to use about four pieces of brussel sprouts per person since not many people can eat more than four. Wrong, Namu chef! I can easily eat ten of these by myself especially with such a fantastic recipe. So I bought a little more than what was suggested (but I thought I shouldn’t alter the proportion too much, so not by much.)
Since I’m Japanese, the rest of the ingredients (bonito flakes, shichimi togarashi, dashi, etc) are a staple in my pantry. I didn’t have a bottle of ponzu, but it’s so easy that I usually whip it up myself in five minutes. (If you have not tasted ponzu before, I would recommend getting a bottle first and get to know the taste before making it at home.) Namu chef suggested using Meyer lemon or yuzu when making from scratch, but I like it with lime also.
I like how bonito flakes dance when sprinkled on top of steamy hot dishes like this one. I think this is probably one of the best vegetable side dishes that I’ve tasted. I’m sure that I’ll make this again and again and again. Thank you for Foodbuzz and Namu chef for sharing the recipe and the dish!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Continue for recipe...
Courtesy of Namu
Brussels Sprouts (Most people don’t eat more than 4 whole heads to themselves, so portion accordingly, i.e. 24 pieces for 6 people)
Guanciale 1/4 pound, or however much you like depending on your penchant for pork
Fried garlic Preparation: You can mince and fry this yourself on the stove in a pan with enough oil (neutral oil, i.e. rice, canola, grapeseed) to coat the garlic. Fry over low heat until the garlic starts to brown, remove with metal screen strainer(it will continue to brown) and place on paper towel and spread to cool with a spoon or chopsticks. Otherwise they sell wonderful fried garlic in Asian markets in a jar.
Ponzu 4oz. This can also be bought in an asian grocer. If you want to make your own, its 2 parts dashi stock, 1 part soy, 1 part rice vinegar and citrus juice to taste (Meyer Lemon juice or Yuzu juice works great).
Soy dashi 4oz (bonito, konbu, soy water) or instant dashi or tsuyu(liquid dashi concentrate sold in asian grocers)
Extra virgin olive oil
Shichimi or Togarashi spice
For the Brussels Sprouts:
1.Quarter the heads or globes so the roots stay intact keeping the leaves together.
2.Blanch. Always blanch in a large pot (large enough that it won’t stop boiling when you drop the sprouts into it) of water with a healthy dose of salt (2-3 tblsp). While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath (50% ice and 50% water by volume; you can eyeball this). Boil the sprouts until they turn bright green, then immediately shock them in the ice bath. This can be done up to a day in advance and the sprouts can be stored, in the refrigerator covered.
For the Guanciale
1.Cube the guanciale to desired size (remember it will slightly shrink). Chef Dennis likes them just bigger than the size of an m&m.
2. Boil the guanciale in a pot large enough to hold it with about an inch and half of water higher than the meat. bring to a boil and simmer until soft. Much of the fat will render, but the flavor will remain rich and the texture is heavenly. Drain and discard the liquid. This can also be done in advance and stored in a refrigerator.
Brussels Sprouts can either be roasted or pan fried.
Method 1: Roasting
Roast the sprouts and guanciale in the oven at 375 until golden brown with enough olive oil to coat, making sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so to get an even color.
Method 2: Pan Frying (Recommended)
1. Put 1 tbsp butter in a pan coated with EVOO. When butter melts, add guanciale and brussels sprouts. Put the pan on high and stir fry the ingredients. You want to get a nice brown color on the leaves of the sprouts, with some crispiness. The guanciale will also crisp up a little on the surface like bacon.
2. Once everything is nicely browned, add ponzu and soy dashi. Be careful as the pan will be very hot and sizzle when you add the wet ingredients.
3. Let this reduce to desired flavor, making sure to regularly toss the sprouts.
4. Top with shichimi, fried garlic and bonito flakes. The flakes will dance with joy.