For our Christmas dinner, my son requested Brussels Sprouts. Now I usually make Brussel Sprouts into a salad, but this time I roasted them. This is not a new technique of course, but what makes these different is in the seasoning. I recently went to Cafe Juanita - a wonderful restaurant in Kirkland, Washington - and had their Brussels Sprouts. They were caramelized, salty and brightly sour with lemon. I wanted to recreate them at home immediately and this was my first chance. Their magic ingredient (I think) was anchovies as that was what was listed on the menu. Anchovies give a wonderful salty, Umami taste to food and if you don't use too much, the dish won't even taste fishy. They just give dishes a savory, salty lift. I couldn't find Anchovies in my cupboard as I think I used them up in another dish recently. But, I did have Fish Sauce in the Italian form - a little bottle of Colatura di Alici - and also the Thai and Vietnamese kinds. All are both made from salted anchovies and give that Umami kick. So, I seasoned the roasted Brussels Sprouts with the Italian one and some Lemon Juice and it was so delicious and easy that my son asked me to post it so he would be able to make it. That was high praise indeed!
Umami Brussel Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, washed, stem-end trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Flaky Sea Salt, like Maldons or Fleur de Sell
1teaspoon Fish Sauce
Juice of half a large lemon
Turn oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the Brussels Sprouts, Olive Oil and Salt. Put onto a baking sheet with the cut side down and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the Brussel Sprouts over with a fork. Return to the oven and continue to roast for another 15 minutes.
Remove and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the Fish Sauce and Lemon Juice and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Five Element Analysis
Brussels Sprouts, being from the Brassica family are part of the Earth Element and like all Brassica are an anti-cancer vegetable and full of nutrients. In Chinese Medicine, they help move Liver Qi Stagnation so they are perfect for a celebratory meal when you drink too much alcohol and eat too much fat! This is because they also have some of the Wood element since they grow on stalks and are buds. The Olive Oil and Lemon Juice add even more of the Wood Element. The Fish Sauce and salt contribute the Water Element, which supper the liver. The Metal Element is present because Umami is the Metal Flavor, but could use some support in the meal and the Fire Element is not present. So be sure to serve this in a meal that includes some Fire and Metal foods.