Chili Crisp And Brussels Sprouts Are A Match Made In Flavor Heaven

Chili crisp Brussels sprouts in bowl
Chili crisp Brussels sprouts in bowl - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

From leafy greens to colorful squash, vegetables are an important part of a well-rounded and nutritious diet. Although they are essential, we've known since we were fussy toddlers that vegetables can be pretty bland and uninspiring. Brussels sprouts, for example, have a markedly bitter taste when they're not all dressed up in flavorful fixings. While salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is an easy way to zhuzh them up, chili crisp is the bite-sized veggie's ultimate accompaniment.

Chili crisp is a condiment made by infusing oil with chili flakes and grainy, crunchy alliums to give it texture. Despite its simplicity, it's also a flavor bomb marked by a present yet accessible heat and satisfyingly savory undertones held in place by the lush, fatty consistency of the oil. When chili crisp is paired with the occasionally disagreeable taste of Brussels sprouts, suddenly that earthy kick becomes a necessary component of a compelling culinary contrast. The leafy flavor of the sprouts impart the chili crisp with a garden-fresh essence as the fiery condiment gives depth to the veggies, culminating in an interconnecting, perfectly complementary flavor profile.

Adding chili crisp to a batch of Brussels sprouts is as easy as spooning a dollop atop the vegetables once they've finished cooking. Rather than using it as a topping, you can also cook the chili crisp along with the greens, but introduce it towards the end of the cooking process because those crunchy alliums can burn quickly.

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Consider Brussels Sprouts Cooking Techniques

Chef chopping Brussels sprouts
Chef chopping Brussels sprouts - Anton27/Shutterstock

Brussels sprouts can be prepared using just about any cooking technique. Although that's a win for foodies who enjoy diversifying their cooking methods, each one has a distinct influence over the flavor and texture of the final dish. Subsequently, the introduction of chili crisp is different across each style of preparation.

Because it's a mostly hands-free cooking method, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect low-effort side dish. When roasted, they caramelize and develop a subtle sweetness absent in their raw form. The fire from the chili oil marries well with the caramelization, facilitating perfect bites that swing between sweet, savory, and spicy. If you're firing up the grill, Brussels sprouts will take on a smoldering, smoky essence that's undeniably delicious. The spicy chili oil harmonizes seamlessly with the campfire char of grilled greens, creating two distinct yet complementary layers of warming flavors.

Uncooked Brussels sprouts are firm and dense, so steaming is an ideal cooking method for softening them up. Tender as they may be, the invigorating crunch of chili oil is still necessary for developing dynamic textures and an intriguing mouthfeel. Shredded, raw Brussels sprouts are often used in salads and slaws. Adding the spice-threaded condiment to a medley of greens laced with stringy fragments of the cruciferous vegetable gives the dish a vibrant, savory kick that complements its earthy taste while giving its tender, leafy texture a delicate flavor-bursting crunch.

Pairing Chili Crisp Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts and salmon
Brussels sprouts and salmon - Gbh007/Getty Images

Brussels sprouts freckled with chili crisp are delicious enough to enjoy independently. However, your options for introducing them into larger spreads of food are anything but limited. Between the bold flavors of the chili crisp and pungent taste of Brussels sprouts, a delicate-tasting fish is the perfect main course to serve alongside this flavor-forward side dish. Flaky, buttery halibut is zippy, satiating, and gentle on the palate without distracting from the rich, spicy sprouts. To bolster the savory notes of the fiery veggies, pair it with the meaty machismo of lamb chomps or a juicy filet mignon.

Create a chili oil vinaigrette and drizzle over shredded Brussels sprouts tossed with cabbage, mandarin orange slices, edamame, and slivered nuts for a nutrient-dense, Asian-inspired salad that walks the line between earthy, hot, sweet, and citrusy. Add ginger-soy-marinated tofu for an extra hit of protein. Make a nourishing Buddha bowl with warm quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and chili crisp Brussels sprouts topped and shaken up with homemade tahini. At once grounding and uplifting, creamy and crunchy, this colorful bowl is an instant comfort classic packing powerful flavors.

Though it's just one of the many ways to use chili crisp in your home cooking, adding the zippy condiment to Brussels sprouts takes them from ordinary to extraordinary in one fell swoop. An easy and delicious hack for making veggies more memorable -- what's not to love?

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.