Crispy Brussels Sprouts
When we were growing up, we knew the most lovely couple. They lived with their lovely kids in a lovely house with lovely dogs who ate lovely oven-baked biscuits. Not so lovely was the family’s vegetable of choice: brussels sprouts. On special Sundays and workaday Wednesdays, with roast beef, chicken, pasta and on their own – bitter, boiled brussels sprouts.
Rare was the meal where I didn’t have to plot how to get their beloved mini-cabbages from fork to napkin to neighbouring bush. Mum was less than pleased when I buried the brussels sprouts in her day purse. Dad soon learned to keep his deep-pocketed jacket near at hand. I tried a more assertive “no thank you,” but the brussels sprouts still landed on my plate, this time with eyes more keenly tracking their fate.
Brussels sprouts don’t tend to do well on ‘vegetables we love and hate’ surveys. A Ranker poll places brussels sprouts right at the top of their Worst Tasting Vegetables list.
When overcooked, brussels sprouts release the sulphurous glucosinolate sinigrin – source of that smell you remember if you were one of those children forced to sit at the table until you finished your greens.
British painter Eliot Hodgkin – who was born in 1905, died in 1987 and painted the sprouts below – said: “In so far as I have any conscious purpose, it is to show the beauty of natural objects which are normally thought uninteresting or even unattractive: such things as brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide.”
Would you prefer to nibble on an old boot cast up by the tide or a brussels sprout? It’s a good question. Imagine my surprise when I was inspired to voluntarily taste a side of crispy brussels sprouts at the Flying Pig restaurant in Gastown. And they were delicious. These crispy brussels sprouts are flash-fried and tossed with lemon juice, capers, parmesan cheese and chili flakes. It’s one of those dishes that is so good you are willing to ignore the stares and scrape out every last morsel.
The creative hands behind the Flying Pig and its brussel sprouts are business partners and deeply experienced chefs John Crook and Erik Heck. The restaurant’s name, they say, ‘represents our desire for you to see the impossible happen every time you visit us.’ Brussels sprouts adored, mission accomplished.
The Flying Pig now has three locations: Hamilton Street, Water Street in Gaston and West 2nd Avenue.
Written by Elizabeth Newton
Header: Olivia the Pig. Ian Falconer. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. 2012.