Bon Appétit (February 2015)
Have you ever asked a restaurant for a recipe?
Though we've asked dozens of home cooks who have hosted us for dinner to share their recipes, we've never done so in a restaurant. (Instead, we just ask the servers enough creepy ingredient questions so we can try to recreate it on our own when we get home...)
Bon Appétit has a long-running feature -- "r.s.v.p." -- at the front of each issue in which the magazine helps readers find recipes for dishes they've eaten in restaurants and loved. We're glad they've kept the feature as the magazine has been overhauled over the past few years. Though we rarely cook from the "r.s.v.p." column, we love reading the questions.
(And although we're always skeptical of the veracity of reader-submitted questions in magazines -- we're looking at you, Parade and Food Network Magazine -- we think the questions in "r.s.v.p." are legit, or at least legit enough for us.)
In the newest Bon Appétit, a question appears asking for a recipe for Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.
They had us at Kung Pao....
This recipe is from Gunshow in Atlanta, run by Chef Kevin Gillespie, Top Chef contestant and fan favorite of viewers (you know Kevin: redhead, beard, tattoos). We've not had the pleasure of visiting Gunshow (or Atlanta, in many years) but we're ready to plan a trip after eating these Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.
Even the most ardent Brussels sprouts hater will find it hard not to like this dish. The Brussels are simply halved and roasted in the oven (the best way to cook Brussels sprouts) until they get nicely browned. While they roast, you make a quick Asian sauce on the stove top: garlic, ginger, chili paste, soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar. The sauce is easy and comes together in just a few minutes.
Then you simply toss the sprouts with the sauce, and top them with peanuts.
It's that easy, and it's absolutely delicious. The Brussels sprouts are crisp and plump, with a nice crunch from the peanuts. The sweet-spicy sauce is actually borderline too sweet for us (next time we'll use less sugar), but the heat of the chili paste keeps it in balance.
We can even see using this method and this sauce on other vegetables (Kung Pao Green Beans? Kung Pao Cauliflower? Maybe even Kung Pao Eggplant??). Really, it's that good.
What's a restaurant recipe you'd love to get your hands on? We'd love to hear about it.
(this photo: Alex Lau for Bon Appétit)
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY:
- We omitted the dried chiles de arbol, not because we wanted to but because we forgot them at the supermarket.
- For what it's worth, we preferred the peanuts here to be lightly chopped.
- We loved the sauce, but next time we'd cut the sugar by 1 tablespoon.
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
2 tablespoons hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed
½ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
⅓ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
Preheat oven to 425°. Toss brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20–25 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry. Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Toss brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.