I hate cauliflower. My boyfriend hates cauliflower. We don’t eat it. We just never buy it. Why would we?
Well…. Maybe because we love a challenge.
Not one to ever be defeated by food, I’d been suggesting for ages that I try and find a way to make us conquer the cauliflower – the one single vegetable neither of us like. Put off by the texture and smell of the deceivingly beautiful thing, it is genuinely the one veggie I’ve just never grown in to liking after childhood. In fact, I actually didn’t mind it as a kid and have fond memories of my aunt handing round some sort of delicious baked battered soft fluffy cauliflower nibbles as canapes on Christmas day. I should probably ask her how she did that…
But anyway. It is not Christmas Day 1989. It is the summer of 2014. Land of the endlessly irritating myth of “clean eating” (Seriously. Each to their own n’all that, but by evangelising “clean eating” you’re insinuating that everybody else’s food is somehow ‘dirty’. I’m pretty sure this all goes way back to good vs evil fables and bible stories and eating raw vegetables instead of the occasional bit of pizza does not make you somehow saintly or ‘clean’ or ‘holy’. Gah!)
Err… what I mean to say is, now we have Pinterest. Land of 100,000 recipes for making ‘clean rice’. Or ‘skinny rice’. Or put honestly, grating cauliflower until it resembles the size and shape of rice but still is just cauliflower.
Cauliflower rice is not rice. I thought I better clear that up. I should also qualify that I love rice. I love my ability to cook it well when it used to be such a challenge (and is for loads of people). This recipe doesn’t turn flakes of grated vegetable in to light fluffy rice. It does, however, change the texture of an otherwise inedible (for us) vegetable in to a side dish which absorbs flavour really well in the same way rice does, and works nicely as an accompaniment to a wet curry, making good friends with any creamy coconut sauce it meets and providing a pleasingly subtle crunch that you’d usually avoid with regular rice. It’s certainly a lighter alternative, and if you find yourself feeling too full to breathe and with a bloated pot-belly after eating tons of rice with a curry, this is a fair alternative.
1 – Wash and pat dry a medium-size head of cauliflower, leaves and main stalk removed.
2 – Line a bowl with paper towels and using the larges holes on your grater, shred large florets at a time (or however you find it easiest. I grated the whole head in one go but found it a little clumsy, so broke bits off).
WARNING – if like us you can’t stand the smell of cauliflower, this is the bit where it really stinks. Grating releases the terrible power within. Be prepared to open some windows, light some candles, and have your boyfriend walk in asking why dinner smells like eggy bins.
Prepare your curry or the rest of your meal, as the next bit doesn’t take very long.
3 – Season the riced cauliflower to match your meal. We were having a Thai green fish curry, so I added 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, salt, pepper and some turmeric for colour.
4 – Heat a heavy skillet or non-stick frying pan with a little oil and fry the cauliflower just for a few minutes. It should turn a little fluffy on the inside of each grain, but with a little bite – like al-dente rice. Test it for seasoning. For me, when it still tasted like cauliflower at all, I added a little paprika. Paprika fixes pretty much everything for me.
That’s it! Done! You have successfully used the most disgusting vegetable in the world to make a non-bloating, non-carby accompaniment to your curry.
This worked surprisingly well. I nervously put Gareth’s portion in a separate dish, worrying that he’d hate his ‘eggy bin smell’ trick-rice. I ended up scraping extra off of my plate on to his triumphantly. We had some lovely steamed broccoli too. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Broccoli is like the handsome brother and cauliflower the ugly sister.
Actually, we were both so surprised with how edible our most loathed vegetable become that this is going to be a regular feature, to help us find other ways to turn those fluffy crunchy tree-shaped clouds of smelly doom in to beautiful flavourful dishes.
And no – it wouldn’t have been easier to just make cauliflower cheese, because as I may have mentioned, we both hate cauliflower.
Stop making it ruin cheese.