Crisp-Tender Brussels Sprouts in 7-Spice Broth
This is not a soup but a simply prepared vegetable side flavored by a light, flavorful broth. The sprouts' mellow creaminess is tempered by the spicy warmth of the liquid.
Yield: serves 4
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. whole coriander
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole allspice
- 2 pods green cardamom
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
- 2 tsp. canola oil, divided
- 1 medium bulb fennel, cut into ⅛-inch slices
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 large parsnip, thinly sliced on the bias
- 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch batons
- 4 cups homemade or purchased vegetable stock (non-tomato-based preferred)
- 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2-3 tbsp. soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- 1 1⁄2 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends and outer leaves trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
- 1-2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and toast the whole spices in the dry pan for 5 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Remove from heat, cool, and finely grind in a spice grinder. Set aside, reserving any remaining spice mixture for another use.
- Return the saucepan to medium heat and add 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1 tsp. canola oil. Add fennel, carrot, parsnip, scallions and 2 tsp. of the ground spice blend, stirring to coat. Cook the vegetables until softened and beginning to caramelize, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 minutes, skimming the broth as needed. Strain broth, pressing on solids to extract liquid and discarding vegetables. You should have 3 cups of broth. If you have less, add water to equal three cups; if you have more, return strained broth to saucepan and reduce as needed. Season broth with lime juice, tamari, salt and white pepper to taste and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Brussels sprouts by removing and reserving 3-4 layers of outer leaves, until the remaining sprout is thimble-sized. Halve the sprouts and set both sprouts and leaves aside. Heat the remaining sesame and canola oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add thimble-sized sprouts and sauté 2-3 minutes until bright green. Add the reserved sprout leaves and ½ tsp. spice mixture and quickly stir fry until leaves are no longer crackling, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, add 3-4 tbsp. broth, cover and cook 2-3 minutes more until leaves are slightly wilted and sprouts are crisp-tender. Season lightly with salt and white pepper.
- Ladle ¾ cup broth each into four prepared bowls. Divide the sprouts into four portions and mound in the center of the bowls. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.