A new Asian restaurant recently opened just a few blocks from our house. Actually, it was a popular and well-established place that closed many months ago and reopened at its present, (and very convenient for us), new location. All summer long, the “Opening Summer” sign taunted us each time we’d drive by it. By mid-September, we had just about given up hope of it ever opening. Then, a few weeks ago, the lights were on and there were cars in the parking lot. And before I knew it, Mr. SGCC had pulled in and parked the car. Woo hoo!
I must say, it was worth the wait. The décor was absolutely lovely, with lots of bamboo, warm wood accents and cool, calming colors. It was hard to believe that the building was the former site of a 1970’s era Wendy’s and had stood vacant for almost ten years!
One of the features of the restaurant that has drawn the crowds in for years is that it caters to all kinds of diners. The menu is quite varied and offers lots of vegan, carb-free and gluten-free choices. I am neither vegan, carb or gluten-free, but I have been trying to make better choices about the foods I consume So, I can certainly appreciate a place that tries to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs.
As I browsed through the menu, I saw something that piqued my interest – cauliflower fried rice. I love cauliflower and I love fried rice, so I ordered it. It wasn’t until I had taken a big bite that I realized that there was no actual rice in the dish. That’s right. The cauliflower WAS the “rice”. Now, I’ll admit that the restaurant was kind of dark, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I read the menu… But, it had never occurred to me that the rice was literally made from cauliflower. You know what, though? It was good. Better that good. It was great! So great, in fact, that as soon as I got home that night, I searched the web for similar recipes so that I could make it for myself.
I was pretty surprised to find that this whole cauliflower rice thing was somewhat of a phenomenon. I was definitely late to this party! There were dozens of recipes out there with different variations of the same theme. Not only did I find Chinese-style fried rice made with cauliflower, but Spanish-style, Indian-style and Thai-style versions as well. I even found several recipes for cheesy cauliflower rice. Who knew?
To make this dish, the first thing you need to do is turn your cauliflower into “rice”. The easiest and fastest way is to pulse it into small bits in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate it into rice using a box grater. Just be careful of your knuckles!
It should look something like this.
Then, scramble a few eggs and stir-fry your protein and the other veggies you’re using. I added some cubed ham, shrimp, pineapple, onions, garlic, carrots, peas and peppers. The beauty of a dish like this is that you can basically throw in whatever you have lurking around in the fridge.
Once everything else is cooked, toss in that lovely cauliflower “rice” and your sauce, and let it all get nice and cozy together. When the cauliflower is crisp-tender, the dish is ready to devour.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Subbing cauliflower in for regular rice makes for a lighter, healthier alternative to a classic favorite. All the same flavors of the traditional version are still there, and the dish is very satisfying and delicious. Honestly, I really didn’t miss the rice at all. And it was just as tasty, eaten cold, the next morning for breakfast.
Cauliflower Fried Rice with Ham, Shrimp and Pineapple
- 1 head fresh cauliflower
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 ounces ham, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup sliced bell peppers
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
- Squeeze of sriracha sauce (optional)
- Trim and rinse cauliflower. Cut into large florets and pulse in a food processor until it resembles rice. You should have between 3 and 4 cups. Set aside.
- Whisk soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar together in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Heat wok or large, deep skillet over medium heat with about a teaspoon of oil. Add the eggs and scramble until just cooked through. Remove and set aside. Wipe out wok or skillet with paper towels, put over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil.
- Add ham and pineapple and fry until they begin to brown. Add garlic and shrimp and fry until shrimp are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from wok or skillet and set aside.
- Put wok or skillet back over medium-high heat and add another tablespoon or two of oil. Add onions, carrots, peppers and peas, and fry until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and toss with the vegetables. Continue to cook until cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add eggs and ham/pineapple/shrimp mixture back into the wok /skillet and mix well. Pour in the sauce and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Top with sliced scallions and sriracha sauce, if desired.
Serves 4 as a main dish, and 8 as a side.