One of my favorite ingredient combinations is Brussels sprouts and bacon. And I love using Brussels sprouts raw and cooked in the same dish. To me, fried Brussels sprouts taste like nori seaweed, full of umami. The soy sauce in the vinaigrette here adds a deep salty note alongside the bacon without taking away from our star veggie. Most of this can be prepared in advance and then tossed together at the last minute.
1 pound Brussels sprouts
6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Juice of 2 lemons
2 medium shallots, minced
3 cups canola oil
1⁄4 cup medium to small fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1⁄2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Prepare the Brussels sprouts: Remove and discard any damaged outer leaves. Then peel away the outer layers from each Brussels sprout to yield a total of 2 cups. Set those leaves aside. Thinly slice the remaining core pieces of the Brussels sprouts, and set them aside separately.
Cook the bacon: Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and add 1⁄2 cup water and the bacon slices. Cook until all of the water evaporates and the bacon becomes crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a kitchen towel to drain, reserving the fat in the pan.
Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat with the olive oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Stir in the shallots. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Heat the oil: Pour the canola oil into a medium heavy-bottomed pot and heat it slowly to 375°F. (Use a deep-frying thermometer to monitor the temperature.) Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel and set it aside.
Fry the Brussels sprouts: Carefully drop the Brussels sprout leaves, in small batches, into the hot oil. They will hiss and splatter when you drop them in, so stand back! Fry the leaves, turning them over with a metal slotted spoon, until they are crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the leaves to the lined baking sheet to drain, and season them immediately with salt.
Assemble the salad: In the large bowl holding the vinaigrette, toss the reserved thinly sliced Brussels sprout cores with the mint and parsley leaves. Season with salt. Stir in the bacon and the warm fried Brussels sprout leaves. Serve immediately.