Tomorrow is my favorite and only brother’s birthday. I tease him because we are so different yet our lives seem to run along the same parallels. Tommy is wonderful. He rescues me when my dishwasher is falling out of the wall and when my life is falling apart. He often walks the dog and constantly walks with me through Scripture. He gives me strength to get up…the kind of strength needed when life knocks you down so hard you can’t breathe. He doesn’t simply say “C’mon. Get over it.” No. And he doesn’t judge. He gently offers two hands to lift me up out of the secluded corners of pain; he softly brushes off the mud of hard knocks and always has soothing words and hope when my soul has been hurt and buffeted. I lean on him as frequently as he leans on the kitchen bookcase, long and graceful legs crossed, drink in hand, patiently waiting for a taste of whatever I’m cooking. He is my treasure. It hasn’t always been this way. Tommy was separated from our family when he was married. We missed him terribly but he’s back with us now and we’re damn glad. He’s the family prankster, always leaving a couple of sweet potatoes and the odd grapefruit on James’ bed pillows as his calling card. James always came out of his bedroom jubilantly stating, “Uncle Tommy was here!” When I lived at my parents’ house before Jimmy and I married, Tommy hung a few brightly colored bras of mine and a few pairs of bikini panties on the paddles of my bedroom ceiling fan. Round and round they leisurely rotated for any and all to see. He was just pleased as punch at my outrage. As goofy as he sometimes is, he is equally sharp-witted and highbrow in his humor, right up my alley. But his heart…his huge, sweet, kind and giving heart is something to behold. As I type this my eyes sting with tears. My emotions are so close to the surface; I know my 3:00 tequila has nothing to do with it, I love my baby brother so. To celebrate his birthday he’s coming over for dinner tonight and one of his dishes will be these asian brussel sprouts. Because he’ll eat anything and everything, he was given the childhood nickname of “Pigdog” by our little sister and me. I happen to know for a fact he LOVES these brussel sprouts. I have 4 pounds for 3 people. So happy birthday, Pigdog. I love you!
I’ve been obsessed with these asian brussel sprouts for a couple of weeks now. I eat them as a snack they’re so doggone good. Hot, warm or cold, I think they’re fabulous. I find most of the ingredients at my grocery store, Publix, but the bonito flakes I picked up at Whole Foods. Fresh Market probably carries them as well. The sriracha chili sauce adds a tiny bit of heat so if heat ain’t your thing leave it out. The honey gives the sprouts a smooth sweetness while the lemon grass, ginger and fish sauce round out this deep flavor blast. I include any random sprout leaves to the roasting pan as they become crisp and savory during the roasting process much like potato chips. In retrospect maybe they are best straight out the oven but they’re mighty fine the following day, too. Hope you like ’em!
Asian Brussel Sprouts
- 2 pounds brussel sprouts, root end trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 6″ piece lemon grass, cut into thirds and bruised to release flavor
- 4 garlic cloves, grated
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2-3 generous tablespoons bonito flakes
- 1 rounded tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- Pre-heat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil and lightly cover with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine trimmed brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well with your hands until all the sprouts are coated with the olive oil.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the outside of the sprouts are dark and any leaves are crispy.
- While the sprouts are baking, combine all the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat.
- Cook the sauce for 4-5 minutes until the garlic and ginger are soft. Set aside until the brussel sprouts have finished roasting.
- Remove sprouts from the oven and transfer to a large, shallow bowl.
- Discard lemon grass pieces from sauce, drizzle the sauce over the sprouts and toss well with two large spoons.
- Serve immediately.