Mr.O says, “I like the way you cook Brussels sprouts. Why is there no bitterness?” Hahaha, it’s unusual for a Turkish guy to admit that my food is better than his mum’s. He didn’t like Brussels sprouts like any others but I love them, probably because I’ve never had bad experiences. So he complimented my Brussels sprouts miso soup a lot. These days I’m trying to make Mr.O eat while food is warm instead of taking photos before eating. So I’m not taking as many photos of what we eat on a daily basis. However, the bigger reason is that he is losing friends or being ridiculed for eating food, weird food as his Turkish friends call it.
Three two and a half years on, we still eat a different food every day.
Ok, today let me try this new way of attracting audience. Why are many articles titled as The 10 Most delicious…. The 5 best ways to…etc. But in fact, they are not the best and I think it’s somewhat misleading. I’m not very good at self-promotion, and that’s why I’m keeping a blog to quietly express my skepticism about the news, the articles, the entertainment and the food that is being consumed by the majority of the population on Earth, while quietly expecting to be found by people. My muse, who I’d call ‘Mr.Tall man’, sent me a poem, ‘Some People‘ in an attempt to console me, who is trying to come out of the bush just to be stunned by the social media world. It’s consuming me a lot lately on top of everything else I have to deal with. So I’m dropping things one by one and asking for help as I said on NYE.
And actually there’s a pool of smart and creative people who write about Turkey in different perspectives rather than in the all-amazing-and-smashing-food tone. I’ve been admiring Slowly-by-Slowly for her creative satires for some time, and the new one I’ve recently discovered, Perking the Pansies is another amusing blog that tells stories behind the curtains.
So, let’s get to the main topic. Here are The 3 Most Delicious Brussels Sprouts Dishes you’ll love!
#1. Brussels Sprouts Croziflette
This is, by far, Mr.O’s favourite even without the sufficient cheese it’s meant to have to be qualified as ‘croziflette‘. What is it? Not many people would know this unless you’re a francophile like me or you had followed my gastronomic journey to Jura. So it’s just a fancy word for gratin, but it contains special pasta called ‘crozets‘, little square pasta, and also contains stinky washed-rind cheese from the Savoie in France, usually Reblouchon, and it’s a heavy winter dish, and the smell is…mar…vel…ous. If it’s made with potatoes, it’s called ‘Tartiflette‘, voila!
But we don’t have the luxury of French cheese, and I’m only surviving on survival packages from friends and guests as you already know, and as the stock is getting low, I can’t go crazy with the cheese at the moment, so the usual Turkish Gruyère goes on top of mine. Plus, I nibbled away 1kg of the Kars eski kasar cheese I brought from Hatay that week so I needed to go a bit easy on cheese and I have only 1kg more to go. When we bought 2kg, we thought it was too much but we’re regretting for not having bought more. I know that I can find it in Istanbul, but it was a different brand and was being sold by a guy from Kars, and it tasted fruitier and nicer.
The secret of getting rid of the bitterness is blanching them with salted water. I’ve converted many Brussels sprouts haters into lovers so trust me. Do not steam them. Boil them for 3-5 mins, and you’re done, or roast them.
This dish was entirely improvised but turned out to be really delicious. It has salami (but usually bacon) and potatoes, but no onion. So it was pretty simple and straightforward. I’ll definitely cook this again with proper cheese another time when I have cheese to spare for cooking. We might not find the sort of cheese you like in Turkey but you can easily find ‘crozets’, which is called ‘erişte‘ in all types, whole wheat, buckwheat, spinach, beetroot, nettles, etc. and I have them in my pantry most of the time because it’s so convenient to make a quick pasta with simple sauce, usually butter, herbs and walnuts, but also simply pesto sauce.
How the pasta from the Savoie get to Turkey? Though, Turks would say, “How did the Turkish pasta get to Franc?” Perhaps, Sultan Abdulaziz (first sultan to visit western Europe) took some of it with him to the Exposition Universelle in 1867, along with some soil in his specially designed shoes! This little square pasta is said to be the favourite dish of Ottoman sultans, but why no long noodles? I started to investigate the reasons but gave up because it was pointless to dig into the false story of Marco Polo, and moreover, I got sick of fighting with Mr.O over origins of things. All Turks insist that everything was invented in Turkey, full stop.
Anyway, thought it lacks some cheese, it was still delicious, cooked with lots of Parmesan cheese and milk, but do not hesitate to use cream if you have some, but fresh cream in Turkey isn’t so nice. I never buy it and I’d rather mix clotted cream with milk instead.
#2. Mackerel Stew with Brussels Sprouts
It’s one of my favourite fish dishes and it’ll be for you as well once you try it. The dry, oily and smelly mackerel tastes so good in this typical spicy Korean stew. The bitterness in Brussels sprouts will become sweet, adding a nice flavour and healthiness to the dish.
Even if you don’t have Korean paste, don’t panic. The mix of Turkish Urfa chilli paste and pomegranate molasses, not to forget soy sauce, garlic, seasonings and a bay leaf, will do the trick. I’d add a teaspoon of miso paste to enrich the flavour, which is a southern style. I love everything with umami, everything fermented, cured and aged, except yogurt. 🙂 But I baked with yogurt a lot instead of milk here.
Just one last tip is to put the Brussels sprouts on top after cooking the fish with onion and the above mentioned ingredients first, and then turn them over to mix in the sauce.
#3. Lamb Satay Brussels Sprouts Soup
Well, miso and Brussels sprouts are a match made in heaven. The pungent miso is toned down by the sweetness of Brussels sprouts and vice versa. The lamb satay is just a fancy touch to turn it into a more substantial dish but you can replace it for various things, tofu, beef, chicken, salmon, etc.. Forget Wagamama and make noodle soup at home without too much grease, too much sodium and MSG. If you’re not familiar with Asian groceries, please check the label of soy sauce and oyster sauce for monosodium glutamate or flavour enhancer. You will see most of the sauces have it. I was dumbstruck to see a bag of MSG powder, which is forbidden in many countries, being sold at a gourmet market here. The guy said that restaurants use it in pilav….rice….WHAT??
I usually make a quick version with any veggies I have, onion, cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach and what not, and add chopped anchovy fillet – yes, I love anchovies – or shrimps, OR tuna, which I don’t buy or eat any more here unless I make tuna sushi rolls. Another secret ingredient that add depth to soup is dried kelp, the original source for MSG. I make my own fish sauce now by boiling the anchovy fillets and straining them, just like the way Hungry Naturalist did to make homemade oyster sauce.
Even Mr.O, who ran away pinching his nose when my mum came for a visit and cooked miso soup for breakfast, enjoys it now. In fact, I think he was more appalled by the tiny dried anchovies swimming in the soup than the smell. My mum didn’t know that cured anchovy fillets existed here. But after eating real miso soup in Korea, he knows now how yummy it is, especially spinach and wild plants. Miso is known to prevent or even cure cancer, and with Brussels sprout, you’ll be well-protected.
Living with Mr.O would have been a hell if he hadn’t been open to trying new foods. I hear food-related conflicts from other women with Turkish men. Some even eat at separate tables and one of my Korean friend is currently going out with a Turkish man and she finds it difficult to eat with him because some of the most delicious foods contain pork. Mr.O gave up all the food he loved, kebab, hamburgers and pizza, just to win my heart, and has turned into someone who goes, whenever he drinks wine, “Hmm, I can smell plum and chocolate!” But before me, wine was for the mouth, not for the nose.
Ok, now I’m done with Brussels sprouts. Mission accomplished!