The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side helping of food politics

wok-fried Brussels sprouts with sriracha

wok fried Brussels sprouts with sriracha

As I write this post it is now a year since the so-called horsemeat scandal erupted in the UK, after horse DNA was found in beefburgers and beef lasagne ready meals for sale in British supermarkets

Leaving aside the issue of criminality, what the scandal really revealed was how difficult it is to trace the origin of imported produce in our food supply chain. It showed that the longer and more complex the journey our food has to take to reach our plates the less confident we can be that it is what it claims to be. At the time of the scandal, the management consultancy firm KPMG pointed to the complex network of brokers, cold stores operators and subcontracted meat cutting plants across Europe that play a part in our meat supply chain. This chain was so complex that – according to KPMG – there were around 450 points at which the integrity of the chain could break down.

To me, what we choose to eat (and what we choose to feed our children) is one of the most important short-term and long-term decisions we make, and the horse meat scandal emphasises that it is in our best interests to source and support organic, seasonal, locally produced foods. The shorter supply chain that underpins local produce provides us with a substantially greater degree of confidence in the integrity of the food we purchase.

chilliesBrussels sproutsBrussels sprout leavessriracha sauce
Time for a meat-free recipe.

This one makes use of a vegetable that still stands proud on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, through these wet and windy early weeks of British winter – the Brussels sprout. This much maligned but exceptionally nutritious vegetable works beautifully in this very simple but delicious stir fry. The sweet, hot, spicy and intense sauce is a bastardised, vegetarian version of a classic sauce used in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine called sriracha, and I think it balances beautifully here against the lightly caramelised vegetables.

wok-fried Brussels sprouts with sriracha


300 g Brussels sprouts, trimmed
8-10 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 tbsp groundnut oil, for frying
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tbsp crispy fried shallots (available in Asian food stores, or make your own by deep-frying thinly sliced shallot rings until crisp, drying thoroughly and then storing in an airtight container until needed)

for the “sriracha” sauce

6 red chillies, deseeded and chopped (leave some of the seeds in if you want a really hot sauce!)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp mirin (rice wine vinegar)
2 tbsp brown Muscovado sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp water
1 tsp toasted sesame oil


1. Strip the individual leaves from each of the sprouts and place in a bowl. This is a bit time-consuming but is essential (after stripping the outer leaves you will eventually reach a tough centre, around the size of a pea, which can be added to the bowl as it is).

2. Place the chillies, garlic, mirin, sugar, tomato purée, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and water in a blender and process to a smooth paste.

3. Place a wok over a very high heat and when really hot add the groundnut oil. As it begins to smoke, add the Brussels sprout leaves. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the sprouts to begin to catch and to start to colour evenly. Add the spring onion. Cook for a further 4 minutes and keep stirring to ensure the vegetables are browning evenly. Pour in 3-4 tablespoons of the paste. Cook for a further one minute, stirring vigorously to coat the ingredients.

4. Serve immediately, either on its own or accompanied by jasmine scented Thai rice, with a scattering of toasted sesame seeds and crispy fried shallots on top.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, savoury, vegan

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Sounds so much better than boiled sprouts! I haven’t come across the sauce before, but the mix of flavours should be good with other stir-fried veg and beans. Have you tried it with any other combinations?… not that there’s anything wrong with sprouts of course


  2. Hi Sarah
    Thanks for your comments. I haven’t tried this sauce with other vegetables yet but this dish would work just as well using alternative brassicas like cabbage and pak choi and, as you suggest, I’m sure it would give an interesting slant to other stir fry combinations. You are of course right, there is nothing wrong with sprouts. It’s persuading others that is the problem!



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