It would be a little embarrassing to admit how many brussel sprouts we've been eating around here. Brussel sprout fried rice with preserved lemons and parmesan. Roasted brussel sprouts with whole wheat pasta and chevre. Brussel sprout smoothies. Have to draw the line somewhere.
But don't draw it before you make these. I know fish sauce doesn't find its way into some kitchens--you might be vegetarian, you might live in a part of the country where it's hard to find, or you just find it downright disgusting. Certainly, if you stick your nose into a bottle, you're liable to run away in fear. Whenever I'm cooking with it, Wyatt wanders into the kitchen and says, in his most high-drama fashion, "Ew! What is that smell?!"
I always think it's funny when cooks say things like, "Oh, you won't even taste the anchovies in there!" What?! Isn't tasting the point? In the case of fish sauce (and sometimes anchovies), not really. At least, not tasting in the distinct way you'd savor a fresh piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate. It's more like, "What's in here? It's haunting." There's a name for that--"umami," or "savoriness--the fifth taste." Everyone (as in chefs, food writers--duh.) is going overboard on umami these days. I don't think about it that much, but I know it's out there, and I know fish sauce is a shortcut to it.
I would eat this tasty number as a main dish--with a side of barley or couscous and a glass of wine. Yum.
In totally unrelated news, we haven't had rain in a couple days, and Seattleites are coming out of the woodwork. We went to Carkeek Park on Saturday, and the beach looked like the middle of July. I took some of these photos last year at Carkeek. It's crazy how much the kids have grown since then. I've been really nostalgic and thankful this month. It was a year ago that Yancey got THE CALL offering him a job in the fire department, and we've been reminiscing in some form almost every day. Being on the beach with the kids, watching trains go by and birds convene in the bare trees, I felt grateful all over again.
Brussel Sprouts with Radicchio and Fish Sauce
Serves two hungry people or 4 as a petite side dish. You could do this without the radicchio--I love, love, love its bitterness and wish I had a bottomless supply. And if you don't have shallots, sub finely diced onion.
1 lb. (or slightly more) brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 head of radicchio, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 Tb. fish sauce
freshly ground pepper
Heat a big pot of salted water until boiling. Blanch the halved brussel sprouts until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Heat a big glug of olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and saute until beginning to brown. Add brussel sprouts and raddichio, and saute over medium high heat until radicchio is wilted and everything's beginning to get a bit crusty. Add fish sauce and swirl to coat, letting the liquid evaporate off. Serve with freshly ground pepper.