Adored by food faddists and reviled by children everywhere, brussels sprouts have become one of Portland’s most entrenched culinary trends. While our city prides itself on a general brussels fluency, it is Boke Bowl’s crunchy, wildly flavored sprouts salad that reigns supreme. At his new, second location on NW 18th Avenue, Patrick Fleming fries up the tiny cabbages and pairs them with sweet, tangy wedges of citrus, fried tofu “croutons,” and a savory Vietnamese dressing that capitalizes on funky fish sauce. “Something special happens when those caramelized flavors mix with the nuoc cham sauce,” he says. “It’s a hell of a dish."
Brussels Sprout Salad
- ¼ cup Fish Sauce Vinaigrette*
- 1½ lbs brussels sprouts
- 1 lb cauliflower, cut into florets
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 blood or cara cara oranges, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes**
- 4 oz firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes***
ROAST: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the outer leaves of the brussels sprouts and reserve. Halve brussels sprouts and toss in a bowl with cauliflower florets, olive oil, and salt. Roast cauliflower and brussels sprouts on a sheet pan for 30–40 minutes until golden brown, shaking occasionally for even browning.
BLANCH: Meanwhile, blanch brussels sprout leaves in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately cool in an ice bath and pat dry.
COMBINE: Toss brussels sprouts, cauliflower, blanched leaves, citrus,
and tofu in a bowl, and dress with vinaigrette.
*Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
- ½ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 limes, juiced
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Thai or serrano chile, minced
Whisk ingredients in bowl. Store up to a month in the refrigerator.
**Fleming rotates his fruit seasonally, subbing in champagne mango instead of oranges in summer, and using ruby grapefruit or the seeds of half a pomegranate in the colder months.
***Fleming brines, smokes, and fries his tofu for Boke’s bacon-flavored “croutons.” At home, he recommends using Bui Natural’s fried tofu, available at Fubonn, Uwajimaya, or Bui’s headquarters at 520 NE 76th Ave.
The Brussel Hustle: Five more epic sprouts dishes
- Nonna: Blackened, chile-spiced sprouts act as a delivery service for an unctuous slick of tangy lemon-steeped cream.
- Trifecta: Charred brussels and smoky chorizo come sizzling straight from an 800-degree wood-fired oven; quince butter lends a sweet, fruity bite.
- American Local: Little flavor bombs, deep-fried to crispy, papery petals, mingle with zippy miso aioli, blood orange, and pickled jalapeño.
- Departure: Salty and savory, individual leaves are doused with bright lime, mint, and Thai chile before hitting the wok.
- Coopers Hall: Quartered globes are flash-fried dark brown and topped with pickled onions, whole-grain mustard, and crunchy, crumbled rye croutons.