Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blasted Broccoli with Fish Sauce

This recipe has quickly become my new favorite broccoli recipe.  I know it doesn't look (or sound) like much, but it's the perfect side dish.  It is insanely easy to make and very tasty.  I'm not ashamed to admit that we have made it twice in the past week.  Last week Alex and I were making one of our favorite quick and easy meals (Stir-Fried Eggs with Cellophane Noodles) for dinner and I wanted a really simple side to go with the eggs.  We had some nice broccoli that we picked up at the farmers' market and I looked through a few Asian-y recipes we had made in the past with either broccoli or Chinese broccoli but none of them looked quite right.  So I Googled "broccoli fish sauce" and found this recipe on Andrea Nguyen's blog Viet World Kitchen.  And I love it. The broccoli is perfectly cooked - tender, but crispy and toasty.  Somehow it avoids the pitfall of high heat roasting - overly charred and slightly bitter veggies, as well as the pitfalls of steaming, sauteing or otherwise cooking broccoli so that it ends up kind of mushy and blah.  Beyond all that the saltiness from the fish cause provides good flavor, without obscuring the flavor of the broccoli.  I should note that we have used nice fresh broccoli from the farmers' market both times we have made the recipe, so I don't know how well this recipe would suit out of season grocery store broccoli that has less inherent flavor and tenderness.  But I am sure that at some point we will give it a try.  I might also try this with broccolini and just adjust the cooking time as necessary or try it and modify the ingredients slightly.  I bet it would work nicely to blast the broccoli in a combination of oil, s&p and then toss in a thinned out harissa paste mixture for some heat...

Recipe after the jump!

Blasted Broccoli with Fish Sauce
Available at Viet World Kitchen

1 1/2 pounds (675 g) broccoli crowns
2 to 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
1 to 2 teaspoons fish sauce
black pepper

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F  (230°C / gas mark 8). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Trim the ends of the broccoli crowns and then cut them into individual florets, like tiny trees. Put on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle on the oil, then season with fish sauce and pepper. Use your hands to coat the florets with seasonings to ensure full coverage.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning midway when the underside has browned a bit. When done, the stems should be just tender and tops have a little browning. Cool a few minutes before serving.

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