If you like a little spice and a little heat, you’re going to love these Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts! A very tasty side dish to jazz up any meal!
I love brussels sprouts, probably a little more that any other person I know. It’s a shame, really, because my two vegetarians, are not huge fans of the humble vegetable. Don’t you just love it when vegetarians don’t like vegetables? Me too!
But, the good news is this: of all the times I’ve prepared brussels sprouts as a side dish, this was the one and only time McKenna actually ate a few without complaint. John.e is not a fan, but he’ll eat a few if I prepare them, but he’d never request them. He didn’t try these at all, and that’s probably because of the amount of chilies in the recipe. But, as for McKenna – the leader of the brussels sprouts hater’s club – this recipe was a win.
It must have been the sauce that won her over. You see, Dear Reader, even though I love brussels sprouts any which way, I have to say, these were in my top ten favourite brussels sprouts recipes of all time. What? You don’t keep a top ten recipe list?
The sauce is so thick and reminds me of those Chinese buffet dishes, you know, the glazed sweet and sour pork or the general tso’s chicken? The kung pao sauce is just like that – thick and gloriously sweet and spicy. It’s garlicky and salty as well. And there’s a bright pop of freshness and zing from the freshly grated ginger. This is a perfect side dish, or even a great main for that vegetarian in your life.
Usually found in the form of Kung Pao Chicken, not Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, the recipes originates from China and is a dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. The original version uses chicken as its primary ingredient. The chicken is stir-fried and vegetables, along with peanuts, are added.
Here at home, a western version is commonly found which consists of chicken which has been stir fried with orange or orange juice, ginger, garlic, broth, sugar, oil, corn starch, and salt and pepper. The dish often includes or is garnished with whole roasted peanuts. Instead of chicken, sometimes, western variations may include pork, beef, duck, or fish.
For the vegetarians though, a great option is brussels sprouts. They are first oven roasted to a nice deep brown colour and then transferred to a platter and bathed in the sweet and spicy Kung Pao sauce. The brussels sprouts end up taking on a soft interior with a smokey, crunchy exterior. With the mild flavour of roasted brussels sprouts, they are a perfect meat substitute which can stand up to the strong flavours of the sauce.
There is a key to making these brussels sprouts taste just right. You must fully preheat your oven to the proper temperature listed in the recipe before placing the brussels sprouts in the oven. If you add them before the oven is fully preheated, you run the risk of almost steaming the brussels sprouts first, which will prevent them from browning quickly. The longer they are in the oven, the more mushy they will become. You want a fully cooked vegetable, but not completely overcooked.
The sauce, although meant to be thick, can be thinner if that’s your preference. Once the sauce has finished cooking, turn off the heat and add a tablespoon or so of water to get the sauce to the consistency you prefer. Keep in mind, this sauce is meant to be super thick!
To assist with this recipe, consider using the following tools:
- Metal Slotted Spatula – these are great! You can easily lift the sprouts off of the baking sheet without tearing them or leaving behind all of that browned, charred flavour! I love my Pioneer Woman slotted spatula; the price is great and I use it regularly in my cooking.
- Baking Sheet – most home cooks have a selection of baking sheets and half baking sheets. I use this one so much I have two just in case!
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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
- 2 pounds brussels sprouts, halved and stems trimmed
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 12 whole dried red chilies
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the brussels sprouts with the vegetable oil until well coated. Transfer to a baking sheet - spread the sprouts so that they are in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes.
In the meantime, in a small sauce pan, over medium heat, add the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, and corn starch. Whisk together until well combined.
Add the dried red chilies and continue to cook until sauce has thickened. It should coat the back of a spoon very well.
Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped peanuts.
Once the brussels sprouts are cooked, transfer to a serving bowl and spoon the sauce evenly over the sprouts. Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.
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