This Thai Brussels sprouts with noodles recipe, filled with layers of textures and a lively tamarind sauce for an easy and satisfying plant-based dinner.
If you like Brussels sprouts (you don’t have to adore them here), this is a great way to enjoy them disguised as a savory Thai noodle stir fry. The sauce for this one is worth knowing because it’s an easy fix with minimal ingredients and numerous applications.
This recipe is super-easy if you consider it in three parts:
A sweet, spicy, zesty tamarind sauce might be a bit counterintuitive when we’re talking about brussels sprouts. I can assure you, it works. The tangy and sweet flavor of the Tamarind sauce compliments the sprouts. And noodles? Well, anything with noodles.
This is the kind of easy sauce that you can make a day ahead and slip into a stir fry of frozen veggies or the bit and bobs that you discover in the cooler. It’s also a winner with noodles because, even without added oil, it clings to them without taking over.
We’ll begin here because this is right where you need to start your cooking. You can whisk this sauce up in a bowl. A blender or smaller food processor will also work. I've used both, but I am dish-washing evasive, so whenever I can shave off a spot of work, I do it.
There’s no particular order of ingredients required for the sauce. I find it easier to mix the miso and soy sauce first. This helps to break up the miso that tends to clump.
What is tamarind?
The soul of this sauce is tamarind paste. Tamarind is a funny fruit that grows in a pod on a tamarind tree. The flavor is a hit of sour and sweet that is distinctive. Once you’ve had tamarind, you know it. And once you’ve tried it, you’ll realize there are a lot of ways to use it.
Tamarind is used in a variety of cuisines, from Indian to Mexican (and several others). It’s also where the tang in Worcestershire sauce comes from.
Where can I find Tamarind paste?
You’ll find tamarind paste in jars or plastic containers that last for years. Look for it where there is a good selection of Asian foods or try an Indian grocery.
Is there a substitute for tamarind paste?
Tamarind is kind of special, but if you can’t find it, all is not lost. You can try a few substitutes. Try lemon or lime juice cut with a sweetener. Another possibility is mango powder or paste. Keep in mind that you want a shock of sour tempered with a bit of sweetness.
Any kind of Thai or other Asian noodles can be used for this recipe. We’ve used brown rice noodles as well as whole wheat noodles (what is pictured). Both taste wonderful, so if you have a favorite, use them.
'Regular' pasta would be a bit heavy for this dish. However, in a pinch, you could consider using thin spaghetti or angel hair.
Cook the noodles separately, then add them. Because you want to do this at the beginning of the cooking process, be sure to rinse the noodles in cold water. This stops the cooking process and keeps them from clumping together.
The Veggies (and such)
The veggie 'bucket' for this recipe consists of veggies, aromatics, and herbs.
Brussels sprouts – I’ve made this recipe with shredded and quartered sprouts. Both are equally tasty. Shredded sprouts have more moisture and a different mouthfeel than the quartered. The quartered Brussels sprouts will sear and brown. That said, you can use shredded for more of a 'sprouty’ flavor.
You can also use frozen sprouts. Check the FAQs for info on how to prepare them.
Mung bean sprouts – Adding bean sprouts right at the end adds a layer of crunchy freshness.
Scallions, garlic, and ginger – Fragrant aromatics add depth and flavor. Slice the scallions about ¾ of an inch in length. Use the white and green parts.
Cilantro – 2 cups will seem like a lot, but it’s the stems and leaves, loosely packed. If you are one of those folks who does not like cilantro (coriander), leave it out.
Red chili – you’ll notice that red chili sits as a garnish. I didn’t intend for this to be a spicy dish; however, you could use chopped red chili if you tend to like things on the hot side. Sauté them along with the scallions, stir them in at the end, or serve them on the side as a garnish so folks can decide how hot they want it.
How to make it
There’s a method to all this noodle madness. It goes like this:
- Brussels sprouts
- Scallions, garlic, ginger
- Noodles and ½ the sauce
- Bean sprouts, cilantro, brussels sprouts, and the rest of the sauce.
Mixing in the noodles after the scallions and before the sprouts (Brussels and mung bean) makes distributing the sauce more manageable.
It can be challenging to deal with the noodles once you've added the bean sprouts and cilantro. If you forget the noodles, you may want to consider piling everything into a big bowl or something with room for you to dig in and mix.
Pro (and not so pro) tips
1.Be sure to keep a bowl handy for the cooked Brussels sprouts. Once you’ve browned them, you need to remove them from the pan and add them toward the end.
2. Don’t start cooking the scallions until you have the noodles cooked, drained, and rinsed. It will only take about 5 minutes before you’ll need them. If you forget and start the scallions first, just remove them from the heat until you are done with the noodles.
3. As usual, we won’t be using added oil, so you want to be sure to follow our oil-free saute golden rule:
- Pre-heat the pan and keep the ingredients moving.
- If the ingredients start to stick, add water a tablespoon-at-a time if needed.
Frequently asked questions
Brussels sprouts are full of fiber and deliver necessary vitamins C, K, A, plus folate and manganese. They are naturally low in fat and calories. Keep in mind that when it comes to healthy foods, how you prepare them influences how much fat, calories, and ultimately overall nutritional value.
You can replace fresh for frozen sprouts, but you want to be careful that they don’t get soggy. The best way to thaw them is to bake them for 30 minutes at 4000 F (2000 C.). Line your baking tray with parchment paper to help collect the moisture. When the sprouts have cooled, cut them into quarters and then sear them in your pan.
I urge you not to give up on sprouts, but if you can’t find them or you absolutely loath them, I concede. A good substitute for this recipe is bite-sized broccoli florets or shredded cabbage.
Recipes with Brussels sprouts
My sprouted thoughts
As recent as a few years ago, I would never have suggested eating Brussels sprouts other than roasting them and smothering them with a 'cover them up' sauce. Times change, and so do tastes and mindsets. I won’t be diving into a bit plate of steamed, soggy Brussels sprouts – ever. But I've started to realize that you can transform Brussels sprouts from "hide under the mashed potatoes" to the star of your plate if you simply expand how you prepare them. Brussels sprouts with all their goodness deserve new approaches. That's similar to a lot of life's tensions. Peace.Print
Thai Brussels sprouts with noodles
Thai Brussels sprouts with noodles, filled with layers of textures and a lively tamarind sauce for an easy and satisfying plant-based dinner.
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Thai
- Diet: Vegan
- ½ cup of soy sauce
- ½ cup of date paste or another liquid sweetener (see notes)
- 6 Tbsp. miso paste
- 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 4 Tbsp. tamarind paste
- 2 tsp. red chili flakes
- 10 oz. (300 gm.) whole wheat vegan noodles or rice noodles
- 1 lb. (500 gm.) Brussels sprouts, trimmed, washed, and quartered
- 1 bunch (6-8) scallions, trimmed and cut into ¾ inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
- 10 oz. (300 gm.) mung bean sprouts
- 2 cups of loosely packed cilantro (coriander), leaves plus thin stems
- 1 lime
- ¼ cup of chopped peanuts (optional)
- 1 red chili, thinly sliced (optional)
- Make the sauce first by whisking the soy sauce, date paste, miso paste, tomato paste, tamarind paste, and chili flakes in a small bowl or blender. Set aside.
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. When they are done, drain them and rinse them with cold water. Set them aside.
- Heat a large skillet or pot to medium heat and add the quartered brussels sprouts. Sauté the sprouts, moving them frequently until they start to brown (about 5 minutes). Remove the brussels sprouts from the skillet.
- In the same hot skillet, add the scallions, garlic, and ginger. Stir the ingredients around for 1-2 minutes until the scallions just start to soften.
- Add the noodles to the same skillet, plus half the sauce. Mix well.
- Add the bean sprouts, cilantro, brussels sprouts, and the remaining sauce. Give everything a stir so that the sauce covers everything.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and squeeze half the lime over the noodles.
- Serve with more lime wedges, chopped peanuts, and chili slices if desired.
- Nutritional information includes ¼ a cup of peanuts.
- If you do not have date paste, you can use another liquid sweetener such as agave syrup, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup. Use the same amount as in the recipe.
- Keep any leftover noodles in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Noodles can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add a bit of water to keep the noodles from sticking together if using the stove to reheat.
- If you use frozen brussels sprouts, per-cook them by baking them for 30 minutes in the oven at 4000 F. (2000 C.). This is a longer process, but it will help keep the sprouts from getting mushy.
- Instead of quartering the sprouts, you can shred them using a sharp knife or food processor set on a coarse chop blade. Shredded sprouts won’t get brown as brown and seared.
Keywords: Thai Brussels sprouts