How to make ‘Caesar’ Brussels sprouts like Josef Centeno

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The beauty of Josef Centeno’s food is in the contrast. “The ‘pow!’ in my cooking comes from the layers of flavor, from citrus, herbs, vinegar, and spices. I like contrasts of fat, acid, textures, temperatures, traditions, and techniques,” he writes in his just-published first cookbook, “Bäco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles.” Chef Centeno is the owner of Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow and P.Y.T. in Downtown LA, and a new Bäcoshop in Culver City.

Flipping through the Bäco book that Centeno wrote with his wife — that would be food writer Betty Hallock — vibrant pictures of dishes scattered with herbs and spices pop from the page. The sensory overload of the book lends itself to the reader’s appetite, in that the food isn’t perfectly organized or convoluted with scary ingredients. Rather, the recipes feature accessible techniques, informative headnotes and the history behind various preparations.

Sometimes ingredients surprise you. Centeno gives us a “Caesar” Brussels sprouts recipe that does just that. “I found a delivery of 30 pounds of Brussels sprouts in the walk-in refrigerator one day. What do you do with 30 pounds of Brussels sprouts? You get creative,” he says. The hardy vegetable mixed with elements of acidity and crunch, and, of course, anchovies, yields a delicious salad that serves four.

Photo of chef Josef Centeno and food writer Betty Hallock with their pups by Dylan + Jeni. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)