Rice has a bad rap here in the West, one that I participated in until I visited my friend in Cambridge one summer. Her roommate had a daily rice ritual passed down from his family: he has his own mini rice cooker, and every day he’d eat a bowl of plain white rice as part of his dinner, sometimes with a dash of soy sauce. He was the most genial, peaceful guy (not to mention in great shape–so much for carb-gut) I’d ever met. And the rice was the best rice I’d ever had.
Knowing that I would never be able to cook rice like him and that my figure wouldn’t be able to withstand such a high-carb diet, I’ve tried to find ways to channel that Peaceful Rice energy in my cooking. Cauliflower rice (cauli rice) is a home run for anyone with the same concerns. It looks just like rice, but you can eat tons more and still only consume a fraction of the calories that the volume of white rice would be. “Frying” it takes away some of the healthfulness, but by using coconut oil, you at least add good fats rather than the kind they use at most Americanized Asian restaurants in the US. Along with the scallions, ginger, toasted sesame seeds, and soy dressing incorporated here, this is nothing like the bland, mushy, steamed veggie you may be used to. It tastes like the definition of umami–or maybe, it’s “peace.”
Vegan Sesame Ginger Cauli Rice
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
1/2 large or 1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. coconut oil
3 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
3 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. white miso
1. Wash and chop the cauliflower into small pieces, reserving the leaves and core for another use. Pulse in a food processor or blender in small batches until the cauliflower resembles quinoa in size. (This step may be messy for you cooks who fall on the more neat-freak end of the spectrum.) Set aside.
2. Toast the sesame seeds in a large skillet (no oil added) until brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in the same skillet and add ginger and scallions. Cook for about 1 minute until the scallions begin to soften. Add the cauliflower and stir to coat evenly in oil. Add 1 tsp. soy sauce; stir to coat. Cook on high heat for 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown slightly. (It won’t “fry” all the way like real rice does.)
4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing the remaining soy sauce, vinegar, and miso in a small bowl.
5. To serve, divide cauliflower into bowls. Top with additional scallions, sauce, and toasted sesame seeds.
More recipes by Jennifer: Classic Carrot Cake
Related: Vegan Korean Recipes: Cauliflower Kimchi Fried Rice
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Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla