I’ve been making very simple foods for the past week, mostly because my days of recipe testing and writing have been very full, often extending till 11 p.m. when I collapse into bed. That kind of work schedule doesn’t permit elaborate cooking.
By late afternoon, the kitchen can look like something exploded. After tidying up, my husband and I usually take a daily walk to buy groceries for dinner. Some days, that’s the only time I leave my house so I relish the chance to stretch my legs and breathe extra fresh air. It’s also an opportunity to ponder dinner.
Local farmers grow some spectacularly tasty broccoli and broccolini, which are sold at weekly farmer’s markets as well as independent grocery stores. My default preparations are to briefly boil broccoli in lots of salted water (steaming tends to unevenly cook the vegetable), stir-fry broccoli with a little meat, or employ it in Chinese-style noodle soups. Here are a couple of past recipes on VWK that involve broccoli:
Over the weekend, I roasted it, inspired by a broccoli recipe in my friend Molly Steven’s All About Roasting cookbook. Molly is a fabulous writer and teacher who communicates just the right amount of information to help you master cooking techniques.
Her broccoli is “blasted” at high heat so it cooks to a wonderful toastiness. She seasons hers with kosher salt and pepper. I opted for fish sauce and pepper.
There were a couple of surprises: (1) the fish sauce lent the broccoli a certain briny toastiness that reminded me of toasted dried squid – a common Southeast Asian noshing snack; and (2) the broccoli’s bite became incredibly sweet and concentrated. That’s the beauty of high heat cooking. This technique would be uncommon in Asia where most people don’t have home ovens like we do in the States. But it’s a brilliant way to treat broccoli. Try it out.
Blasted Broccoli with Fish Sauce
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
- 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.
- Brussels Sprouts with Cracklings and Fish Sauce
- Thai Roast Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup