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I am not one of those people that have a pathological fear of brussels sprouts. My sister was. She came back from her time in London muttering something about mini cabbages, but I just put that down to English food in general. Don’t hate me, I just wasn’t a fan of the bubble and squeak concept.

Being one of the lucky ones, I had never tried them til a group of us managed to fluke a table at Porteno in Surry Hills. The waiter recommended we try the brussels sprouts and although we were skeptical of paying good money for a vegetable with such a tarnished reputation, we conceded that it was deep fried – and nothing deep fried could be that bad, right? Their brussels sprouts dish is now one of my favourite dishes of all time.

Served with lentils and mint and dressed in a simple vincotto vinaigrette, it is simplicity at it’s best. And to top it off, Porteno has been generous enough to share the recipe on Gourmet Traveller. Don’t you love when chefs are generous with their knowledge?

The night after we dined there, chefs Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz were awarded joint Chefs of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Chef Ben Milgate (right) putting the finishing touches on plates at Porteno

Here’s my scaled down recipe if you don’t want to use 2kg of Brussels sprouts. It’s a great side dish for paella or roast meats.

Crispy fried brussels sprouts with lentils and mint
recipe from Porteno
serves 4

50g Puy lentils (also called green lentils)
oil, for deep frying
700g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
½ cup loosely packed, mint

Vincotto dressing
70ml extra virgin olive oil (about 4 tbsp)
30ml vincotto, you can substitute caramelised balsamic vinegar (about 1.5 tbsp)
¾ tbsp hot English mustard

  1. Combine lentils in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover generously, bring to the boil and cook until just tender (15-20 minutes), then drain and set aside.
  2. For vincotto dressing, whisk ingredients in a bowl to combine, season to taste, set aside.
  3. Preheat oil in a large deep-sided saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Be very careful for the next part, as oil will go everywhere. Literally, everywhere. Deep-fry Brussels sprouts in batches, stirring occasionally, until crisp and dark golden (4-5 minutes), drain on absorbent paper and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add lentils, mint and vincotto dressing, toss to coat and serve hot.

If you’re wondering what vincotto is, it’s an Italian condiment made by reducing grape must (grape juice combined with skins, seeds and stems). It’s sweeter than balsamic vinegar and is also known as vino cotto.