Tapas-style. Duck-pig sausage. Chicken liver mousse. Salad w/ almonds and…pecorino? Fried Brussels sprouts.
I’m a sucker for Brussels sprouts, so I’m always on the lookout for these green monsters on the menu. I don’t care if the server says, “oh god don’t get those,” or if they’re a side dish, or an “addition.” It doesn’t matter. I will order them. You never know if you’ll just pass up some seriously boss Brussels sprouts.
Unfortunately, my taste buds felt that the sprouts at Waterloo & City needed a longer cook time, as they were somewhat hard in the center. I don’t mind hard and crunchy so much as the resultant digestive troubles that occur with uncooked cruciferous vegetables (gas chamber, anyone?). Frying the Brussels sprouts may remove the challenge of obtaining a delicious outer profile, but the inside tenderness counts as well. A strip-down in a bit of salted boiling water does the trick, and keeping the Brussels sprouts whole can prevent the delicious mush effect (although I secretly love over-boiled vegetables).
The chicken liver mousse was…chicken liver mousse. Nothing extraordinary besides the presentation, which reminded me of Chinese bakery rolls. It came out as a square, and had a white border, which I believed to be some sort of whipped cream cheese. Not bad in the eye-candy department (white glowing “aura” always looks cool), and taste wise, it was slightly off-putting. I recall disliking the mousse, as there seemed to be a metallic aftertaste. Overall, I would say that the presentation and aesthetics of the dish were better than the taste.
Now, about the duck-pig sausage. I’ve seen my share of sausage creations; normal pork sausage, beef sausage, alligator/rabbit/rattlesnake/ostrich/wild boar sausage, but what about vegetables? I’ve never seen a bean/celery/kale/carrot/beet/daikon/radish/mushroom/onion- mix n’ match sausage.
How would we mimic such a creation?
Before we go Einstein on any vegetable processing techniques to fit our sausage making process, we should review the breakdown of what makes a normal sausage so ridiculously satisfying.
That crackling pop. Crispy skin and juices like arterial spray.
Got that bite. An even, but still varied texture.
Taste. Perfectly seasoned. Pockets of umami, fat, and even a bit of gelatin.
Spicy. (Optional). So, if we wanted to make a vegetarian sausage, I’ve devised this recipe below. Most of it is layering textures and flavors before we stuff the sausage. In this case, the sausage is just a vessel for all the goodies inside, so vegetarian or not, it doesn’t change the purpose.
Makin’ Asian-styled veg sausages.
Cook some sticky rice in vegetable broth or chicken/beef broth (if not hardcore vegetarian). Throw in some whole peppercorns and star anise, but remove the star anise after cooking.
Saute garlic, ginger, finely diced onion, add finely diced mushrooms and kale, salt n’ pepper. When done, rest in a colander to allow the excess cooking fluid to drain, but do not press. Take half the rice and let it rest in the drained fluid. Then mix that half of the rice into the vegetable saute. This is your soft, juicy, component.
Take the other half of the rice, and fry it in the pan with a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, fennel, anise, and sesame seeds, until fairly crispy and brown. This helps to add bite and texture.
Dice small cubes of daikon and/or carrot. This is your crunchy factor.
Mix solid ingredients together.
To taste, add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, dash of sesame seeds, dash of ground gloves, some fennel and anise seeds. Want some numbing spice? Add some finely crushed Sichuan peppercorns. Tad sweeter? Add a bit of sweet rice wine.
When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, pump it through your sausage maker into your casing of choice. There are cellulose casings if you really are hardcore vegetarian. They will resist breakage better than animal casings.
To cook: Quickly boil in broth or water for about a minute, no longer (preserves the crunchy carrot/daikon). Fry em’ up in a pan until golden brown and delicious.
Eat. I hope they’re good, because I’ve never made them. I’ll update this when I do and if it goes completely balls up.