August 10, 2005
When I was pregnant with my first son we had a bumper crop of Brussels sprouts in the wee garden my husband had fashioned from the clay that lay under the lawn. Around then I started suffering from my first attack of parental guilt. No matter how beautiful the sprouts looked, I just could not bring myself to eat them. A former sprout lover, I couldn't bear the thought of cooking them, let alone eating them.
The crop languished, unwanted, of interest only to garden pests. Every time I walked by, I felt guilty - but remained revulsed. Fortunately, the revulsion ended about the time the crop was uprooted and my interest in Brussels sprouts was rekindled the following winter. But my son took a lot longer to appreciate the joys of this little member of the brassica family. Once I took to cooking them as an accompaniment to roast lamb and had the family pouring mint sauce over them, I managed to evoke a spark of interest among the troops.
This is a much maligned vegetable and yet it seems such a shame not to use it. OK, it can be sulphurous and even downright disgusting when boiled away to a soggy khaki. None of that, however, with today's recipe. Don't tell them they're eating sprouts and they might not even guess.
12-16 Brussels sprouts
Peel off any discoloured leaves from the sprouts. Using a sharp-pointed vegetable knife, remove the cores and tear each sprout apart into individual leaves. This can be done quite roughly and is less labour-intensive than peeling off individual layers.
Using a fine grater - a Microplane works like a charm - shave off about a 2.5cm quantity from the chunk of ginger. Dice the capsicum very finely. Heat the butter and oil in a frypan or wok and stir-fry the grated ginger and capsicum for about a minute. Add the sprout leaves and toss for another minute then add about two tablespoons of water and continue turning till the sprouts are just cooked but still green and crunchy. Season and serve immediately. You can sprinkle in a few fennel seeds at the end if you fancy.