Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I’ve never needed an excuse to stuff myself silly, but if we’re going to declare a national holiday to give me full permission to do so, I’ll happily respond, “Sign me up coach!” I’ll be missing Thanksgiving in the States for the first time ever this year. When you all are feasting on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I’ll most likely be gorging on a huge bowl of pho in the town of Hoi An, the third stop in my family’s pilgrimage back to Vietnam.
We left District 5 (aka Chinatown) of Ho Chi Minh City in 1983 when I was 20 months old, and my parents haven’t been back since. We’ll return on this trip to Vietnam with 1 less family member than when we left - my grandmother sadly passed this time last year – but with 3 new ones(!) – my younger brother, his girlfriend, and my husband. Even though I won’t be in America for this very American holiday, I’ll certainly still take pause on November 22nd to express the gratitude for the happy life I live now and the life that I got to leave behind. Oh dear, I’m getting all emotional just thinking about it, so let’s get back to the subject of this blog entry: Thanksgiving side dishes, which for some is also an emotional subject.
Since I won’t be home to participate in cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, I’ll be giving you all my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes over the course of this next week and hope that a few of them end up on your Thanksgiving menu. First up is a recipe for miso-butter roasted brussels sprouts. I cook brussels sprouts in a variety of ways but this is the preparation I’ve been most in love with this season. If you’re afraid of brussels sprouts, slathering them in miso-butter will make you forget all about the brussels sprouts part of the dish. If you’re thinking that miso might be a bit exotic for your menu, it’s just a different way of adding some saltiness to this traditional Thanksgiving vegetable.
For those that already love this vegetable, you’ll love them even more with Cook’s Illustrated trick for ensuring a tender inside but perfectly caramelized and crispy outer leaves. Basically we steam them in the oven at high heat to cook the heart of the vegetable for the first half and then roast them for the second half at high heat to get those leaves crispy. I add the miso-butter during the roasting stage to make sure we get as much flavor as possible. Your guests won’t have any idea how you made them taste so good, but I propose we keep this our secret and keep them coming back every Thanksgiving for more.
- Brussels sprouts, small & firm – 1 lb.
- Butter – 1 tbs.
- Red miso paste – 1 tbs.
- Olive oil – 1 tbs.
- Lemon – ½
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees
- Rinse brussels sprouts and trim the ends (the stem part) and remove any outer leaves that look are damaged or just don’t look that fresh. Slice them in half
- Toss brussels sprouts with 1 tbs. of water and a generous dash of salt and pepper. Place brussels sprouts, cut-side down in a rimmed baking sheet / baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes
- When brussels sprouts are in the oven melt butter and mix with red-miso paste and oil. Toss with brussels sprouts after they’ve baked for 10 minutes. Put back in the oven without foil. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes
- Toss finished brussels sprouts juice with juice from lemon and more salt and pepper as needed
- These are best prepared for serving. If you prepare them ahead, they’ll lose their crisp
- Serve finished brussels sprouts with your favorite nuts . . . cashews, walnuts, pine nuts all taste great
- Vegan? Skip the butter and just use olive oil