“It’s funky. Abrasive. It’s not afraid to get in your face and call your mama ugly.”
That’s how black bean garlic sauce was first described to me. I was one of the RA’s in the dorms way-back-when in college and some of my freshmen residents were teaching me how to use a wok. One of them tossed the sauce in with some cooked chicken and greens and as the steam and smoke rose the air became salty and pungent. The aroma was so thick you could suck it in and roll it around on your tongue. A flip of the wok and suddenly lunch was served. A quick taste and I could see that the sauce was an ingredient that demanded your attention and could only be tamed by other brassy ingredients.
“Wow, this is awesome. It’s so intense!” I blurted before reaching for another forkful.
She smiled and said, “Yeah, it’s not a condiment for the weak.”
Brussels sprouts are one such brassy ingredient that’s able to really compliment the black bean garlic sauce. These tiny cabbages have a delightfully bitter flavor that mellow and sweeten when seared. A dash of chili pepper flakes give the whole dish an extra bit of bite. This is a dish full of flavor that’s simple, fast to prepare side, and works great as a meal on its own.
You can find black bean garlic sauce in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores. I use the Lee Kum Kee brand and love it. If you're up to it some chopped, cooked bacon is equally tasty when added to this dish. Note that the sauce is pretty salty, so no additional salt is needed.
- 2 tablespoons of olive, grapeseed, or safflower oil
- dash of chili pepper flakes
- 25 brussels sprouts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of black bean garlic sauce
- ground black pepper
1 Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stems and discard any of the loose leaves. Quarter them lengthwise.
2 Place the oil and chili flakes into a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the brussels sprouts to the pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the sprouts begin to brown a bit. They may absorb all the oil, if they do just add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
3 Add the black bean garlic sauce and stir until all the brussels sprouts are well coated. Add a pinch of ground black pepper (the sauce is already salty so you probably won't need any salt). Cook for about 30 more seconds. Take off heat and serve immediately.