Spicy, Sweet & Savory Brussels Sprouts

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since my last post and I’m glad to say after spending a couple of days of unpacking, my kitchen is finally ready for operation. Also, after spending a couple of days using internet on a stick (wait, I mean USB stick ;P) I’m more than ready to bid goodbye to my temporary fix of internet and welcome back my ADSL. During these times, I can’t help wondering how on earth did I get by with dial-up speed while I was in high-school??

So here’s my first post from my new kitchen – spicy, sweet and savory brussels sprouts. A dish inspired by my favourite Szechuan cabbage dish picked up from a cookbook. In effort to capture the basic elements of a Szechuan dish, one needs to add chili for spiciness, sugar for sweetness and vinegar for souriness. Usually dried chili is preferred in this type of dishes for its intense spiciness and smokiness. But if your chili tolerance is on the low side, you can try with fresh chili or red bell peppers.

Spicy, Sweet & Savory Brussels Sprouts

(inspired by A Little Taste of China)

Serves 2 as a side dish

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes (including pre-boiling the brussels sprouts)


  • 8 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into half
  • 1-inched ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (adjust according to taste; or 1 thinly sliced fresh chilli)
  • 2 tbsps light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps white vinegar
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour + 3 tbsps water (for sauce thickening)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  • A recently boiled water from the kettle


  • Lightly toast sesame on a dry pan. Set aside. (Don’t walk away while doing this as it should only take a few seconds on medium flame.)
  • In a bowl, mix light soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper and sesame oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

  • Pour boiling water into a medium sized pot and place over medium flame. Wait until it starts boiling and add about a tablespoon of salt. Add Brussels sprouts and let them cook in the water for a half minute or until it is slightly tender in the middle when pierce with a fork. Drain and set aside.  (Note: If you’re not sure, it is better to under-cook the sprouts at this stage.  FYI – The salt in the water will help the sprouts to stay bright green when cooking)
  • Grease a pan/wok with some vegetable oil and place over medium flame. When the oil is hot, add ginger and saute until aromatic.
  • Add chili flakes and saute for 4 seconds. Then, reduce the flame to low (to minimise the splatter) and stir in the sauce mixture.
  • Then add in the Brussels sprouts and mix to combine with the sauce. Cook until they achieve your desired texture. Remove the Brussels sprouts  from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave the sauce behind. Set aside.
  • Add cornflour mixture to the sauce and boil on high heat until thickens. Spoon the sauce over the Brussels sprouts and sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving. Best served with rice.

30 Responses to Spicy, Sweet & Savory Brussels Sprouts
  1. Liz
    January 30, 2011 | 11:52 pm

    I have to try your recipe…it sounds phenomenal!

    • Emily
      January 30, 2011 | 11:56 pm

      Thanks Liz…hope you’ll enjoy it! :D

  2. Roxan
    January 31, 2011 | 12:34 am

    Emily! Brussels sprouts is one of my favorite vegetables. I know… weird right? Most people hate them, but I could seriously eat a bowl of roasted brussels sprouts like it was popcorn. These look amazing. You prepared them to totally look like little bok choys :)

    • Emily
      January 31, 2011 | 12:43 am

      Yeah brusells sprouts are my favourite too…and therefore, this is not weird at all…haha!

      I can’t believe people actually hate them, my beloved included…but that said, I think maybe because some people are scarred from overcooked and bland brussels sprouts.

      Eating like popcorn huh? Well, I must say you take your love for the sprouts to a whole new level…hehe!

  3. meemsnyc
    January 31, 2011 | 1:47 am

    Oooh, I’ve never thought to cook brussel sprouts like this before. Sounds awesome.

    • Emily
      January 31, 2011 | 1:51 am

      Thanks. I love my brussels sprouts to be really tasty and to be eaten with rice (okay it’s very Asian of me :P). This is no doubt one of my favourite ways of cooking BS. :)

  4. ceecee
    January 31, 2011 | 2:22 am

    always looking for good brussel sprouts recipes! thanks!

    • Emily
      January 31, 2011 | 2:51 am

      You’re welome. :)

  5. Annie
    January 31, 2011 | 2:36 am

    This looks so good. Brussels sprouts are my absolute favorite vegetable but I am definitely in a rut with how to prepare them. This is just the fix I need.

    • Emily
      January 31, 2011 | 3:41 am

      Thanks Annie…I know what you mean, it happens to me sometimes too. I’m glad that I can help. :P

  6. chocolatesuze
    January 31, 2011 | 3:33 am

    rofl @ internet on a stick! mmm too bad it wasn’t deepfried too

    • Emily
      January 31, 2011 | 3:40 am

      It may not be a bad idea…haha!

  7. a frog in the cottage
    January 31, 2011 | 10:44 am

    OOHH i would really enjoy to have some !!

    • Emily
      February 1, 2011 | 12:02 am

      Thanks….I’m sure you will… :P

  8. Tiffany
    January 31, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    These flavors sound WONDERFUL! (P.S… I have major love for Brussels Sprouts!)

    • Emily
      February 1, 2011 | 12:01 am

      Woo hoo…another brussels sprouts lover! Welcome to my BS club…hehe!

  9. sweet road
    January 31, 2011 | 8:43 pm

    looks delicious! I’ll be trying that out soon.

    • Emily
      February 1, 2011 | 12:01 am

      Thanks. Hope you’ll enjoy it! :)

  10. Allison [Haute Box]
    February 1, 2011 | 1:14 pm

    I’ve never had brussel sprouts with this flavor profile. It’s mouth watering. I’ll certainly try it soon. I LOVE brussel sprouts!

  11. Urs
    February 5, 2011 | 4:23 pm

    …..and really great pictures

  12. Kevin (Closet Cooking)
    February 16, 2011 | 1:25 am

    Nice way to enjoy some brussels sprouts!

  13. The Food Standard | Metro(poetry)lis
    March 22, 2011 | 12:35 am

    [...] Brussel sprouts in the fridge and access to sesame seeds. Roasted. With potatoes. And soy sauce. Kind of like this recipe from Fuss Free Cooking. via Fuss Free [...]

  14. [...] sé que bien preparados pueden transformarse en un plato maravilloso y ese es el caso de estos repollitos de Bruselas con semillas de sésamo. Los repollitos tienen un escaso valor calórico por lo que, si te estás cuidando, este puede ser [...]

  15. Claire
    September 23, 2011 | 3:50 pm

    Ah….another way to eat one of my favourite vegetables. Who knows, I might even convert a few new people to loving these sprouts.

  16. Anat
    January 23, 2012 | 8:00 pm

    Dear Emily,
    These brussel sprouts of yours just made my dinner delicious. perfect! Thank you!

    • Emily
      January 30, 2012 | 2:37 am

      Thanks for your feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! :)

  17. Katie
    January 27, 2012 | 1:21 am

    Finally found the time to make these! I cooked them alongside a classic mac & cheese and it was an incredible combo! Thanks!

    • Emily
      January 30, 2012 | 2:38 am

      Hi Katie,

      Never thought it would go well with mac & cheese. I may give this combo a try some time. Thanks for your feedback! :)

  18. Mark Perloe
    December 31, 2012 | 4:00 pm

    Wish you had a print button to easily print and share the recipe.

  19. Martha Griggs
    June 7, 2013 | 12:08 am

    This looks amazing! I just made some brussel sprouts for dinner and am wishing I had found this recipe… idk how well it woulda gone w rice n beans tho lol

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