Brussels Sprouts and Udon Noodles in Miso Sauce
If you’ve never sliced Brussels sprouts before tossing them into the pot, you’re about to discover the ideal way to prepare this underappreciated vegetable. Since the slices cook evenly and maintain their sprightly green color and crunch, you will feel like you are being introduced to a new vegetable.
In this dish, you’ll be tossing the sliced Brussels sprouts with Japanese udon noodles, bell peppers, and pecans. An East West sauce is quickly made by blending the fermented soybean paste called miso with rosemary-infused olive oil and a little of the noodle cooking water.
This recipe calls for dark miso, which is generally saltier and aged longer than light miso, so avoid any temptation to make a substitution. You’ll find udon noodles and miso in Asian groceries and health food stores. Leftovers are likely to need perking up with soy sauce or lemon juice.
Miso is a thick paste made by fermenting soybeans or a combination of soybeans and grains. In general, dark misos are saltier and have a more intense, “beefy” flavor than light misos. Dissolve mlso in liquid before adding it to your dish. Look for miso in the refrigerated section of health-food stores and Asian markets (or order by mall from Gold Mine Natural Food Co.). Miso Master is a good brand. Refrigerate miso in a tightly sealed container, and it will last for years.
Cooking Methodsauteeing, steaming, stir-frying
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturecrunchy, nutty, savory, spiced, umami
Type of Dishpasta
- Pound or two 10-ounce pints Brussels sprouts
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced (keep white and green parts separate)
- ½ cup finely diced red bell peppers
- ½ cup finely diced yellow or purple bell peppers, or additional red peppers
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¾ cup water
- 8 ounces udon noodles (Eden Foods makes a nice brown rice udon)
- 2½ tablespoons dark miso
- 1 tablespoon rosemary-infused olive oil (or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary), plus more if needed
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (Shoyu or Tamari)
- ½ cup toasted pecans
Trim off the root end of the Brussels sprouts, and discard any browned or damaged outer leaves. Cut the Brussels sprouts lengthwise into ¼-inch slices, set aside. Begin bringing a large pot of water to the boil for the udon.
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 20 seconds. Add the sliced white part of the scallions, bell peppers, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Turn off the heat. Standing back to avoid spattering oil, add the water. Add the Brussels sprouts, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until the sprouts are tender-crisp and still bright green, 2 to 4 minutes. (Add a few tablespoons additional water during this time if the mixture becomes dry.) Set the skillet aside, uncovered.
Break the udon in half and add them to the boiling water. In a small bowl, dissolve the miso in ½ cup of the noodle cooking water. Stir in the rosemary-infused oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
When the noodles are just short of done, drain them. Set them in the skillet with the Brussels sprouts, and stir in the miso sauce and reserved scallion greens. Add more soy sauce and rosemary oil, if needed. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until the mixture is good and hot. Toss in the pecans and serve immediately.
2001 Lorna Sass