Cauliflower isn’t the first ingredient that pops into mind when I think of stir-fry vegetables. In fact, it’s pretty much the last. But my eyes pulled toward a recipe for Spicy Cauliflower Stir-fry, by the Kitchn, when I was searching for Stir-fry recipes today simply because Sis and I have two heads of cauliflower in the refrigerator. I had planned on making stir-fry and a side of roasted cauliflower. This recipe called for roasted cauliflower added to a stir-fry so it seemed to be kismet.
Still, I wasn’t overly thrilled about the recipe even though I agreed to make it. I like cauliflower enough, but it’s certainly not my favorite veg. And, as I already stated, it seems like an odd ingredient to add to a stir-fry.
I had slight hope that it would taste OK though after I roasted the cauliflower and tasted a roasted floret. It was good on it’s own so I thought, eh, maybe this will end up OK. Sis wanted to add mushrooms to the recipe because mushrooms work well in stir-fry but the combo of mushrooms and cauliflower also gave me pause. So there I was 50-50 on whether the dish would end up being decent or disgusting. I was leaning toward disgusting.
Also, we didn’t have the Shaoxing rice wine that the recipe required. Nor did we specifically have dry sherry. Sherry, yes. I wasn’t sure if sherry is automatically dry since the recipe specified “dry” sherry. As it happened, a bottle of Mirin arrived from Vitacost today so I suggested using Mirin. The one other time I cooked with Mirin and soy sauce, the dish came out super salty.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The ingredients are getting more and more questionable as I go along. Lastly, I’m terrible at making stir-fry. At my house I have a wok that I just bought and never used, but I’m not home right now. So I was left to cook in a large ceramic pot.
Per usual, the vegetables came out too soft. But the smell of the dish seemed OK and I’m used to making crap stir-fry so too soft of vegetables weren’t a deal-breaker. I let Sis dish her bowl out first. She was adding baked tofu and I was adding some cooked ground pork. As soon as she forked out her vegetables, I added ground pork to the dish and continued stir-frying. She headed to the living room where we planned to watch Luther while we ate and said literally nothing about the dish which got me real nervous. I was certain the dish was utter failure.
Eventually, she made some sort of comment about the stir-fry being good and I asked her if it was too salty (“no) or not salty enough (also “no”) and I reasoned that I had somehow lucked out with the amounts of ingredients I had thrown together when modifying the recipe from the Kitchn. When I finally got to bite into the dish, I was more than pleasantly surprised. There was no strong cauliflower taste. It wasn’t too salty or weird tasting. It was just really darn good.
My only regret was not adding green onion, which we couldn’t. We didn’t have any and it’s impossible to get groceries delivered given that everyone in the Portland Metro area is doing their best to stay home to save lives. If we can ever happen to land a delivery window, we will be buying green onions, and I wouldn’t hesitate to try this recipe again.
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 4 T. vegetable oil, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium scallions, cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
- 2 T. Shaoxing rice wine, dry sherry or Mirin
- 2 T. tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 T. garlic chili sauce (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar (omit if using Mirin)
- Steamed rice, for serving
- Heat oven to 450°F and ensure you have a rack situated in the middle of the oven.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower on the baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread into an even layer and roast until crisp and golden, stirring halfway through, about 30 to 40 minutes total.
- In a small bowl add the wine or sherry, tamari or soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, and sugar if using, and stir to combine.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes more, making sure they don’t burn.
- Turn the heat high. Add the roasted cauliflower and scallions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the wine-soy mixture. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, then serve over steamed rice.