Brussels Sprouts Pad Thai

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Pad Thai is all about balance. Sweet, salty, spicy, tangy. So how do we get there? For the sweet, let’s keep it simple, a little brown sugar. Tamari and miso team up for a one-two salty umami punch, as well as a little fermented flavor that you might find in traditional fish sauce. Red pepper flakes are probably not the spice you’ll find in Thailand or in Thai restaurants, but they are so pantry-friendly and they get the job done! Now for the tangy ... tamarind concentrate! It’s got an ethereal flavor, sort of tart like a plum, but also a little tropical, and I just love to keep it around for occasions such as these. It’s also nice and sticky, which is exactly what you want in pad Thai sauce. Brussels sprouts are a really welcome addition to this Thai standby. I first tried it this way in San Francisco in the 1990s. It’s like you’re wondering if pad Thai can get any better, and then suddenly there’s roasty brussels, and holy-moly something already perfect is made even more so.

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Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • cup (75 ml) tamari
  • cup (75 g) packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons mellow white miso

For the noodles

  • 8 ounces (225 g) pad Thai rice noodles
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1 pound (455 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (40 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, lightly chopped
  • 4 ounces (115 g) mung bean sprouts

For garnish

  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup (150 g) roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Prepare the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. You can also do this in a mixing bowl with a fork, but the blender is faster and smoother. A small blender, like a Magic Bullet, works really well. You can add up to ¼ cup (60 ml) of water to thin the sauce as needed.
  2. Make the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions and be careful not to overcook. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the scallions by thinly slicing the white and light green parts about inch (3 mm) thick. Slice the darker green parts into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces and keep separate.
  4. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in the pan and sprinkle in a little salt. Add the brussels sprouts facedown in the pan and cook for about 6 minutes, turning after a few minutes, until browned on both sides and tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Now we’ll cook the sauce in the same pan: Lower the heat to medium. Cook the garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil very briefly, about 15 seconds. Add the dark green parts of the scallions and half of the cilantro and toss just to get it wilted. Now pour in about half the sauce and heat it through.
  6. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Cook them through so that they’re very hot. Add the cooked brussels and the mung bean sprouts and toss just to coat.
  7. Serve immediately, topped with carrot matchsticks, peanuts, the white and light green parts of the scallions, and the remaining cilantro, with lime wedges alongside.