Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” Made Easy

I love cauliflower. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient and can be very tasty. Discovering new ways to incorporate cauliflower into meals becomes a necessity when living a low carb lifestyle. Most people remember the foul smelling cruciferous vegetable when their parents forced them to eat it as a child and never bother to learn how to prepare it properly. (Same with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, etc.) One of my favorites is using cauliflower as a rice replacement. Chinese fried rice, in particular. Let’s first discuss a few cooking techniques for making traditional Chinese fried rice.

Everything is precooked

Fried rice mainly consists of rice, eggs, veggies, and bits of seasoned pork. All of these ingredients are cooked prior to making the fried rice. The eggs should be scrambled at a medium heat and set aside. The veggies should be stir fried and set aside, too. Even the pork, called Char Siu, should be prepared, cooked, and cut up in advance.

Cook at super high heat

Chinese food is cooked very quickly at extremely high temperatures. The woks used in Chinese restaurant kitchens won’t work on a normal stove. They’ve got a round bottom because they’re intended to be used over an open flame. Check out this video showing the power of a commercial wok burner:

A wok for home use will have a flat bottom, which is especially important for electric cooktops. Carbon-steel woks need to be “seasoned” to be non-stick. Commercial woks are used at temperatures that a traditional non-stick coating (like teflon) would be destroyed. High temperatures from home ranges can be pretty destructive to nonstick pans, too. I use a non-stick coated pan with success, but you may want to get a more traditional wok and put in the time and effort to keep it seasoned properly.

We’re going to need a cooking oil that has a very high spoke point. Most Chinese restaurants use soybean or some other inexpensive cooking oil. I used to use peanut oil, but I’ve switched to macadamia nut oil since it’s much healthier and works really well in Chinese cooking.

Keep the food moving

A wok looks like an unnecessarily over-sized pot. However, the curved bowl-like structure is part of the wok’s utility. Food cooked in a traditional wok must be stirred and flipped constantly. Check this guy out:

He keeps the food moving constantly. Sometimes by using a spatula and sometimes by jerking the wok around.

Breaking the rules?

Let’s summarize what we need to do to make traditional fried rice:
  • Pre-cook the main ingredients.
  • Get the wok really, really hot.
  • Use a high smoke point oil.
  • Keep the food moving.
That’s it in a nutshell. The low carb version is going to replace cauliflower for white rice. You might assume the cauliflower ought to be cooked prior to cutting it up and stir frying it. Nope. In fact, we’re going to use the ridged body of the raw cauliflower to our advantage.

The easiest cauliflower fried “rice” recipe ever

Cut the raw cauliflower into 2 inch pieces, rice it in the food processor using the S-blade, and you’re done prepping it. Do not precook as it will turn to mush. Never cover the wok while cooking. We’re not steaming; we’re stir frying. Cauliflower contains a lot of water. The cooking oil coats the cauliflower and the high heat allows the solid portion to fry while the liquid boils away as steam.

I initially researched recipes to reproduce the pork ends used in fried rice at home. I was tracking down “five spice” when common sense smacked me on the side of the head and I realized, “Hey, stupid! Just go and buy some freakin’ roast pork from a Chinese restaurant.” It’s right there on the appetizer section of just about every take-out menu. Why spend hours to make it when I can buy it? Yeah, it was probably cooked in something God-awful like corn oil, but you know what? Who cares? I figure my overall diligence with the rest of my diet and lifestyle can afford me this small transgression. Many places will drown the pork in some brown sauce loaded with corn starch. Remember to order it plain. This will yield a lot of pork. I personally like a lot in the fried “rice,” but you could always use half and save the other half for another time.

Soy sauce traditionally contains gluten. You have to be careful when looking for gluten free products. San-J makes a gluten free product called Tamari. However, Kikkoman’s Tamari contains gluten. Kikkoman makes a product called glutten free soy sauce instead. If you don’t like the idea of using soy sauce, there are other products that claim to be replacement. Low sodium soy sauce is often mysteriously higher in carbohydrates, so I tend to stick with the regular stuff. I take a couple of packets of the cheapo soy sauce at the Chinese take-out when I pick up the roast pork. This soy sauce is most definitely low quality junk, but it adds authentic color and flavor without the saltiness of Japanese soy sauce.

I’m not listing any veggies to add, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Green onions, peas, those weird looking bean sprouts are all good ideas. Just remember to cook them first and add them at the end just to warm them up. Don’t add salt. The soy sauce has plenty of it already. If you want to add oyster sauce, pepper, ginger, sesame oil (for flavor), etc., go ahead, but I haven’t found it necessary.


4 tablespoons macadamia nut oil
1 head (approx. 780 g) cauliflower, riced and raw
5 - 6 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce or equivalent
2 packets (18 g) Chinese dark soy sauce
2 eggs
1 small order (approx. 9.5 oz) Chinese roast pork (no sauce)


  1. Cut up and rice a head of cauliflower (just the white stuff, not the green leaves) in a food processor using the S-blade. A few pulses is all it should take. Do not shred too fine. The pieces will shrink when cooked.
  2. Cut the roast pork pieces into small bits like you’d normally find in fried rice. Set aside for later.
  3. Scramble the egg at medium heat in the wok with a little oil or butter. I usually scramble eggs at a low heat, but eggs in fried rice should have lots of chunky curds. When the egg is cooked, remove from the wok and save for later.
  4. Turn the heat up on the stove top to the highest setting. Add the macadamia nut oil and wait until small wisps of smoke begin to appear.
  5. Add the riced raw cauliflower and stir. Resist the urge to add more macadamia nut oil. The cauliflower will shrink as the water inside boils off. There’s plenty of cooking oil in there, trust me.
  6. Add soy sauces and keep stirring. Don’t stop stirring. Okay, stop stirring and check to see if water is pooling at the center bottom of the wok. That’s normal. Push the cauliflower to the sides and let some of it boil off. Now keep stirring again. Repeat this until the water stops pooling whenever you briefly stop stirring and the cauliflower at the bottom center of the wok begins to get stuck slightly.
  7. Toss in the rest of the ingredients (scrambled eggs, roast pork, veggies, etc.) and keep stirring. This shouldn’t take very long since the ingredients added are already cooked and the cauliflower will be really hot. Just a minute is all that should be necessary. Take the wok off the heat and let stand on a cool part of the range. Let it stand for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

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