Travelgiving: Pork Belly Brussels Sprouts with Shichimi Togarashi

Travel Inspired Side Dish for Thanksgiving

Last year I wrote a series of recipes I called "Thanksgiving Basics" in case you're far from home or hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and just want to keep it classic and simple. You can find them all here. This year I'll be doing things a little more travel inspired for our second annual big expat Thanksgiving (we'll be hosting around 25) but definitely keeping some of the classics in the mix.

Our 4th Stop: Japan, the home of Shichimi Togarashi or what you might recognize as that little bottle of spice mix they have on the table at ramen places.

Our T-Day Inspiration: Brussels Sprouts

Growing up, my grandmother loved brussels sprouts and would occasionally buy this much maligned mini cabbage but could never convince my grandfather, my brother or I to eat the ones she boiled. Flash forward to adulthood and me meeting her for lunch one day where she said "Oh, we have to get the fried brussels sprouts with aioli, they're so good, I promise you'll like them". Sure enough, I became a brussels sprouts convert. Soon roasted, fried and crispy brussels sprouts were on every menu and us (much maligned) millennials were chowing down on a vegetable that we wouldn't have even given a second glance a year earlier. (You still absolutely cannot convince me they're good boiled though.)

Roasting brussels makes them salty and crispy on the outside while keeping them sweet and tender in the middle. If you can't find pork belly, you can of course replace it with bacon, though the flavor will be a little different. (You can also take out the pork belly all together if you want to keep your vegetables vegetarian or vegan friendly, just generously toss with sesame oil before roasting) For Shichimi Togarashi, you can find the small bottles at most Asian markets or this mix from The Spice House looks very similar to the fresher hand mixed version I got most recently and used in this recipe. You can definitely use the little ramen shop bottles but my initial version of this recipe required using A TON and didn't end up quite as vibrant as with the more expensive hand mix. This is a throw it all together, taste and adjust sort of recipe so view the below more as guidelines than strict rules.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and halved
  • 1 pound Pork Belly
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 3-4 tablespoons Shichimi Togarashi
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit
  2. Spread brussels out, flat side down on a lightly greased or silicon mat lined sheet pan
  3. Generously salt and pepper your pork belly and then cut into bite sized pieces. (Pork belly in Seoul almost always comes pre-sliced, but if you buy it in a large block, you might want to cut first and then salt and pepper for even coverage)
  4. Spread the pork belly over the brussels sprouts. Give it all some more salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 15 minutes and then check to see if it's cooking evenly. My tiny Korean oven cooks unevenly and I'll give everything a bit of a stir at this point. It's ok if your brussels look a little dry, I promise the pork belly will release a ton of fat for those little guys to roast in soon. Return to oven.
  6. Roast for another 15 minutes and then sprinkle with sesame seeds and give a more thorough stir. Return to oven.
  7. Roast for a last ten minutes or until your pork belly is crispy and your brussels are starting to look nice and browned. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the Shichimi Togarashi. Mix well and taste. Add salt, pepper, sesame seeds or togarashi to taste.
  8. Serve immediately.