Once the last chimes of Christmas ring out, the fanfare around Brussels Sprouts usually quietens down too. But did you know that sprouts are actually in season until March? If anything, it is post-Christmas, free from the need to blend them into a Christmas spread, that we can get out some of their boldest flavours. This is a quick way to level up sprouts with a Sichuan-inspired sauce and serve them alongside some plain rice or even noodles. But if you’re like me you will take any opportunity to cook rice as an excuse to make a little extra, just so you have some leftover rice the next day, ready to be turned into these crispy rice circles.
For the Crispy Rice
- 200g sushi rice or 410g leftover sticky rice
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp golden granulated sugar
For the Sichuan-Style Brussels Sprouts
- 500g brussels sprouts
- 5 dried Chinese chillis
- 2 garlic cloves
- 10g ginger
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Sichuan chilli oil + 1 tsp sediment
- 1 tsp golden granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
- groundnut oil for frying
- 1 tbsp peanuts
- If you’re cooking the rice from scratch, try to cook it the day before. Wash the rice several times in plenty of water to remove the excess starches. Then place it in a saucepan along with 260 ml water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Now turn off the heat, remove the lid, gently fluff up the rice with a fork and place the lid back on to let the rice steam for another 5 minutes. Scrape it into a bowl and, once cooled off, refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, measure out your rice, you should have around 410g. Mix together the vinegar, sugar and 1 tsp salt, then pour it over the leftover rice and gently mix to coat the grains evenly. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread out the rice into a 1 cm thick layer. Now fold over the paper and use another baking tray or something flat to press the rice down firmly so that the grains stick together. Freeze it for 1 hour.
- For the Brussels Sprouts, wash and dry them well, then trim off the ends, remove any bruised leaves and cut the sprouts in half. Cut the chillis into 1 cm pieces and tap them to remove most of the seeds. Set aside.
- For the sauce, grate the garlic cloves and ginger into a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chilli oil and sediment, sugar and Sichuan pepper to the bowl and mix together.
- When the rice is ready remove the trays from the freezer, take out the rice and use a cookie cutter to cut 4 perfect circles (Don’t throw away the leftover rice, just fry it later on for a crispy snack on the side). You can also just cut it into squares. Heat a generous amount of groundnut oil in a frying pan, then fry the circles over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides (5 minutes each) and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.
- While the rice is frying, heat another 3 tbsp of groundnut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the sprouts, chillis and peanuts along with 1/2 tsp salt and fry them for around 5-10 minutes until the sprouts are golden. Pour over the sauce and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sauce has reduced and the sprouts are tender. Divide the rice circles over serving plates and top them with the sprouts.