Raw Brussels sprouts salad
Traditionally, Brussels sprouts were boiled or steamed for an inexplicably long time. This gave them a grey tinge and a bad name. But then we started treating them with a bit of dignity and bacon, and life was good again.
Brussels sprouts have become more considered, as have a lot of vegetables. Parsnip is another example. It used to be a roasting vegetable that would sometimes turn up in a soup. Now it’s on dessert menus at avant-garde restaurants and in salads.
The prize for the best-cooked Brussels sprout dish goes to David Chang. He fries them and dresses them with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s completely addictive. I’d be happy to eat a bowl of these with every roast chicken I’ve ever cooked.
Anchovies are another bedfellow for Brussels sprouts. I’ve made anchovy butter in the past that sits perfectly on a steak but was also delicious tossed through some roasted Brussels sprouts. The recipe for this is not difficult: 50 grams of anchovies to 100 grams of butter, a clove of garlic if you like and a smattering of chopped parsley, all smashed together in a mortar and pestle.
This recipe gets even further from overcooked sprouts, by leaving them raw. Celeriac is another vegetable that benefits from being treated raw, julienned and served in a remoulade.
Raw Brussels sprouts have a lovely sweetness and a pleasant texture when shredded. I remove any grey damaged outer leaves and then will either run them over a mandolin when whole or slice them in half and use a kitchen knife to shred them as thinly as possible.
To make a small amount of mayonnaise is near impossible and a waste of time. You will end up with more than you need, but don’t be alarmed: it lasts a week in the fridge and is good served with pretty much everything.
For this recipe, I always try to source small, tight, organic Brussels sprouts. If I were at a market and there were only bigger, older Brussels sprouts, I wouldn’t bother making it. I’d head back to the bacon instead.
Raw Brussels sprouts salad
– 500g Brussels sprouts
– 1 avocado
– salt and white pepper
– 2 spring onions cut into small rings
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 8 mint leaves, shredded
– 20g parmesan shavings
– 1 tsp lemon zest
– 4 tbsp lemon mayonnaise (recipe below)
Peel any grey outer leaves from the sprouts. Quarter the avocado and arrange it on four plates. Season each wedge with a pinch of salt and white pepper.
Shave the Brussels sprouts on a mandolin into a mixing bowl. Toss the sprouts with half the spring onion rings, olive oil, mint leaves, parmesan and lemon zest. Season the shredded sprouts with a pinch of salt, taste, and add more salt if needed.
Top each avocado wedge with a tablespoon of lemon mayonnaise. Distribute the shredded sprouts evenly over the four plates and sprinkle the remaining spring onions over the dishes.
– 1 clove Australian garlic, peeled
– 2 tsp Dijon mustard
– 3 egg yolks
– 180ml vegetable oil
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1½ tsp lemon juice
– 1½ tsp white wine vinegar
– zest of one lemon, finely grated
– white pepper
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic to a fine paste with a pinch of salt.
Transfer to an electric mixer with the whisk attachment fitted. Add the mustard and egg yolks to the bowl.
On high speed, whisk the yolks and slowly add the oils until incorporated. Finally add the lemon juice, vinegar and lemon zest.
Taste, and adjust with salt and white pepper if required.
Two Metre Tall Derwent aromatic spelt ale, Tasmania ($88 a case of 12x500ml) – Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 6, 2017 as "Benefit of the sprout".
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