The other day I made a trip to my local farmers market (situated next to the underground station Südstern in Berlin) which takes place every Saturday. I wanted to see if one of the stands offers brussel sprouts on the stem. Not too long ago I learned that brussel sprouts don’t grow in plastic nets on a tree (joking!), but on larger cabbage plants. Apparently not many people know what the whole plant looks like. And I finally want to find out how the long stalk and the leaves taste and make a three-way brussel sprout dish using stalk, leaves and sprouts. I did not succeed in finding the whole plant, but I haven’t given up yet. Watch this blog!
Nevertheless I went home with another idea. I was given a freebie when a couple at one market stall decided to let the vendor cut off the bigger part of the stem from one head of broccoli. I asked the vendor if it’s going to compost, she reckoned it will most probably be used as food for rabbits. A light went on in my head: next blog post!
Too often I have only used the more tender sprouts of a broccoli, wrapped the stem in cling film with the plan to make soup from it, only to discard it later. I spoke with the vendor about my blog and she wondered what I would use the stem for. „Probably carpaccio“, I responded in an instant. In fact I have never thought of it, but I have made carpaccio from kohlrabi and I thought why not try that with broccoli stems. The broccoli stems have to be cut super-thin and the best way to achieve this is using a mandoline.
Many people probably have too many kitchen gadgets, that often clutter up our kitchens. One thing that I have found indispensable though over the years is a mandoline. I recommend you get one with an adjustable blade. I can set mine to cut fruit or vegetables into paper-thin or thicker slices. You may also try slice it very a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, but the mandoline makes life so much easier and cuts more evenly. Just make sure you stop at the right minute or use a guard to avoid injuries.
I kept this very simple. I have recently had broccoli with a kind of nori seaweed dust in a restaurant and wanted to pulverize a nori sheet in my blender. With little success. Instead I used shichimi togarashi a Japanese spice mix which contains nori, chili and sesame. But feel free to experiment. Here I used toasted sesame oil, but I can see this carpaccio working very well with other nut oils, especially hazelnut, too.
broccoli stem carpaccio with sesame oil and togarashi
- 1 large broccoli stem
- a few drops of toasted sesame oil
- a few drops of rice vinegar or sherry vinegar
- shichimi togarashi spice mix
Remove the leaves of the broccoli stem and peel with a vegetable peeler. Slice the stem into paperthin discs using a mandoline, a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. If using a mandoline, rotate the stem, so the slices are cut evenly (otherwise you tend to get oblong shapes). Discard the hard and woody end of the stem.
Heat a small pot of water. When it comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt. Add the broccoli slices and blanch for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and refresh with cold water. Leave to drain.
Arrange the broccoli slices on a plate and drizzle sesame oil and vinegar over it. Dust with a few pinches of togarashi and serve.