The cute miniature cabbage-like vegetable, Brussels Sprouts, is one of my favourite things to cook and eat.
Growing up, many of my childhood friends hated Brussels Sprouts – partly because of their bitterness and the simple fact that they were green was enough to relegate these nutrition-packed vegetables to the “I hate you forever” abyss.
It’s a shame really. Aside from its bold flavours and delightful texture; Brussels Sprouts are packed with vitamins, amino acids, fibre, cholesterol-lowering benefits and qualities that improve your immune system.
Brussels Sprouts are also a great source for glucosinolates, phytonutrients that are the genesis of a variety of cancer-protective substances. Brussels Sprouts has a total glucosinolate content greater than that found in other cruciferous vegetables: mustard greens, turnip greens, kale and broccoli.
With the right preparation, Brussels Sprouts can be super delicious and healthy.
Here are 3 tips to reduce the bitter taste in Brussel Sprouts:
Halve the Sprouts
Turns out the bitter taste that some of us really detest is a result of thiocyanates, an acidic antioxidant, and glucosinolate compounds that are released during the cooking process. Since the bitter flavour components are concentrated in the center of the sprout, it helps to halve the sprouts so that the compounds can be released during the cooking process. Halving the sprouts also allows the vegetable to cook faster and gives you more surface area for a delicious carmelization.
Sauté with a little bit of brown sugar and wine
Cooking with wine always adds another flavour element to any dish – its flavour becomes deeper while it enhances the other ingredients. Imagine adding red wine to a French-inspired beef stew or white wine to fish stock for a bouillabaisse. A splash of wine can change a dish’s chemistry. In Chinese cooking, adding a splash of cooking wine is a regular practice to deglaze the pan and add flavour. In the case of Brussels Sprouts, sauté with a little bit of raw brown sugar and finish with a splash of white wine: the sugars and subtle tartness of a refreshing white wine will offset the bitterness but also help steam through the vegetables.
Boil at your own peril
Definitely my least favourite method of all as boiling vegetables results in water-soluble vitamins leaching out and its nutritional content dramatically reduced. Though halving and then boiling your Brussel Sprouts will reduce the bitterness of the vegetable, you may also compromise everything that’s good about them. If you have an extremely low tolerance to the flavours of bitterness, use this method.