My first grilled cheese sandwich is neither plain cheese or consists of tomato and cheese. It was in fact filled with cheese (Kraft Singles cheese, to be exact) and pickled cabbage and onions. It was from a food truck near my house in Penang specialising in hot dogs and burgers. Although we have such food trucks on almost every corner of the city, what made this particular one special was the pickled cabbage and onions. My mum disliked the idea of me having hot dogs and burgers all the time, so I happily compromised by foregoing the sausages and burgers and just stick to the pickled vegetables and cheese with grilled hot dog buns. I was contented.
Inspired by my childhood food memory, I have recreated my own version by substituting cabbage with brussels sprouts. I love the slight nuttiness in brussels sprouts that a cabbage lacks. But nothing beats the fact that my beloved enjoyed brussels sprouts without him realising it.
To make pickled brussels sprouts and onions
Makes about 4-5 cups – this will make many sandwiches considering your need about a quarter cup for each sandwich.
Only light pickling is involved here – this is to give the brussels sprouts and onions a mixture of flavours: tanginess, sweetness and saltiness.
- 14 brussels sprouts (you can replace them with cabbage)
- 1 large & 1 small onions
- 3 tbsps salt
- 4 tbsps sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Wash and slice brussels sprouts lengthwise, as thinly as possible.
- Slice onions as thinly as possible too.
- Mix brussels sprouts, onions, salt, sugar and vinegar together in a mixing bowl.
- Let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour. Toss the veggies around during half time.
For the grilled cheese sandwich
- 2 slices of white or wholemeal bread
- 1/4 cup pickled brussels sprouts & onions
- 1 egg beaten with white pepper *optional*
- Mozzarella cheese or a slice of Kraft Cheese Singles
- Heat up a small pan. Add pickled brussels sprouts and onions (try to shake off the excess liquid before cooking) with a knob of butter onto the pan. Pan fry on high heat until soften. Taste the vegetables, add salt or sugar if necessary. Continue cooking until slightly charred, set aside on a plate.
- Beat one egg with white pepper. Pour the egg into the same pan and cook the omelette. Set aside on the same plate.
- Lower the flame to the minimum. Spread some butter on one side of the bread slices. Place the first slice, butter side down onto the pan.
- In this order, add first 4 slices of mozzarella cheese,brussels sprouts and onions, egg and the last four slices of cheese and the other side of bread, butter side up. Press slightly with a spatula.
- Cook until the bottom slice of bread becomes brown and cheese has melted. Then flip the sandwich over to cook the other half.
- Remove the sandwich from the pan and serve immediately.
Note – Sometimes when I don’t have time to do ahead the pickled brussels sprouts and onions, I’d add the same ingredients onto the pan (although you have to adjust the proportion by eyeballing and tasting) and let the vegetables to cook down a little. Then I will add the butter and pan fry the vegetables until slightly charred.