Charred Brussels Sprouts and Leek Muchim With Coff…

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

This salad pays tribute to one of my all-time favorite Korean banchan, pa-muchim, a marinated scallion salad of raw shaved onions and scallions dressed with mustard, vinegar, gochugaru, and sesame oil. Pa-muchim is traditionally served as an accompaniment to samgyeopsal, or grilled pork belly; wrapped together in a lettuce leaf, pa-muchim’s acidity and underlying bitterness from mustard and raw onions balances the fat and smokiness from grilled pork.

This riff on pa-muchim uses Brussels sprouts leaves in place of scallions. The leaves are quickly charred in a hot cast iron pan to lightly wilt them and coax out their subtle bitterness. Once cooled, the Brussels leaves are tossed with thinly sliced raw leeks, which provide a heartier, longer-lasting crunch than sliced onions, and a coffee-Dijon dressing.

This dressing was a happy kitchen accident: I was making a batch of sesame mustard dressing and knocked my cup of morning coffee into the bowl, and I found that these two bold flavors worked beautifully together! With dueling bitterness, the Dijon acts as the soprano, while the coffee is the alto. They’re balanced out by the addition of honey, cider vinegar, and nutty toasted sesame oil. To maximize the punch of the mustard, I recommend adding it to the vinaigrette right before dressing the salad, as it tends to lose some of its oomph if it sits in the dressing for an extended period of time.

When not used for this banchan, the coffee-Dijon is a dressing that should always be in your fridge; it works as a dipping sauce for fried chicken, it’ll wake up sleepy Tuesday night roasted broccoli, and liven up a roasted pork loin with apples. The marinated charred Brussels sprouts and leeks can serve as a quick and easy everyday banchan for accompanying meat, poultry, and seafood dishes, but they’ll also fit in nicely as part of a larger holiday meal. Every Thanksgiving table could use a little pop of bitter acidity to cut through and complement the rich, sweet, and savory elements of the meal.

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