I’m gonna come right out and say it: carrots are pretty boring, yes? I mean, I like them and all, and I get that a lot of you probably do, too. Understandable, because there’s a lot about carrots to like: they’re pretty, they’re sweet, and if you believe universal parent-imparted wisdom, they’ll make you see in the dark.
That’s pretty much where it ends, though. How many times have you ever heard someone say “I LOVE carrots- they’re my favourite vegetable!” I’m going to go out on a limb and guess never. I think it’s because the humble carrot is nearly always relegated to side dish territory, and rarely gets to take centre stage. A side of carrots was a prerequisite for any celebratory dinner when I was growing up. Come Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter they were there, but I never liked them as much as their neighbors broccoli, potatoes and brussels sprouts.
So when I took a bunch of carrots home on Sunday, I had lofty ambitions to make them into something exciting that I’d actually look forward to eating. Because I sometimes find cooked carrots a bit too sweet, I figured the best way to counteract this was to pile on the salt and spice. Looking to my favourite Asian flavours for inspiration, I braised these with some garlic, ginger, chili and soy sauce, and garnished the resulting dish with fresh spring onions and coriander.
This dish far exceeded my (modest) expectations: it was vibrant and flavourful and damn near addictive. The “braising and glazing” technique I used comes via Mark Bittman, and resulted in tender carrots coated in a thick, syrupy sauce. So make it, and throw the poor old carrot a bone for once. They’ve got as much right to stand in the spotlight as anyone else, after all.
Note: Contrary to my original intentions, I’ve categorized this as a side dish, both because I figured most people would use it as one, and because the Side category on my recipe tab was looking depressingly bare. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a side; this would make a great simple meal, served over rice or Asian noodles.
- Soy Braised Carrots
- serves 2 as a main with rice or noodles, 4 as a side
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, minced
2 cups of carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
1 Tbs. sesame oil
3 small spring onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs. chopped coriander
- 1. Heat the oil in a heavy nonstick pan (one that has a lid) over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add the chopped carrots, soy sauce, water and chili flakes. Give a quick stir, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the carrots are tender, stirring once or twice. You may need to add some more water if the mixture becomes too dry.
3. When the carrots are tender, take the lid off the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook until the moisture has mainly evaporated and the carrots are nicely browned.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve sprinkled with the spring onion and coriander.