Pulling Brussels sprouts apart is well worth the effort, but I go to the trouble only once a year, to go with our masala-grilled Parsi turkey. I owe this idea completely to David Tanis and Alan Tangren, café chefs at Chez Panisse in the 1980s. There they were one fall afternoon, patiently turning a case of Brussels sprouts into a fluffy mound, pulling them apart leaf by leaf.
1 ½poundsBrussels sprouts
¾teaspoonbrown mustard seeds or fennel seeds
1tablespoon shredded peeled fresh ginger
1dried red chile
2 to 3pinches (or more) of salt
Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the core of each sprout and tease the leaves apart. This can be done a day ahead. Put the leaves in a tightly sealed plastic bag and refrigerate.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop (or the fennel seeds to crackle), throw in the ginger, the chile, and 2 to 3 good pinches of salt. The moment the ginger starts to brown, add the sprout leaves and stir-fry until they are barely tender. Check for salt.