May yesterday go down in history as the day that I spent twenty-five dollars on Brussels sprouts. I didn’t mean to do it! I knew I needed plenty of sprouts in case I encountered another recipe failure. The sprouts were packed in big bags, so I grabbed two and continued on to the green onions. That’s how they get you—with those big, pre-packed bags.
Then, I was a terrible customer and read email during check-out and didn’t even notice until I glanced at the receipt at home. Twenty-five hard-earned dollars! Who am I? The sprouts weren’t even good sprouts. I’ve been robbed.
My only consolation is that my sprouts turned out great on my next try, so I have extra sprouts for later. This Kung Pao Brussels sprouts dish is my take on a popular Chinese stir-fry recipe, Kung Pao chicken. I roasted my Brussels sprouts and tossed them in a completely irresistible, spicy soy-honey glaze with green onions and peanuts. It’s a stellar vegetarian appetizer or side dish, and I wouldn’t judge if you wanted to eat it for dinner on its own.
This recipe has actually been ten months in the making. I became completely enamored with the concept when I found it in the pages of Bon Appetit’s February issue, but when I cooked their version in our Austin kitchen, I was disappointed. It was crazy salty and just generally not awesome (sorry, Bon Appetit!). I gave it a couple more shots and eventually gave up.
Fast forward to December and I’m craving more roasted Brussels sprouts. I remembered the Kung Pao sprouts and wondered if I couldn’t come up with a similar, less salty and way more tasty version, based on my roasted Brussels sprouts with crispy baked tofu dish. It’s one of my favorite recipes, so I played around with it and here we are.
My version is, admittedly, pretty far from traditional Kung Pao chicken. I roasted the sprouts instead of stir frying them (too many sprouts for one pan) and omitted the Sichuan peppercorns (where do you find those?). It is awesome, though!