What did a rice-lover like Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo do to satisfy the craving once she switched to a Paleo (a.k.a. rice-free) diet? Started making rice from cauliflower, of course. Okay, perhaps cauliflower "rice" is not an obvious choice to anyone unfamiliar with the Paleo diet, but the bright white vegetable makes for a texturally similar dish to rice once spun around in a food processor for a few minutes. The flavor won't fool anyone, but cauliflower "rice" does indeed work as a substitute in many rice-based dishes.
Take, for example, Tam's fried "rice" in her new cookbook. Steamed and tossed with vegetables, bacon, eggs, and a Paleo-friendly blend of fish sauce, coconut aminos, and vinegar, the cauliflower soaks up the salty sauce and meshes with the vegetables in a way that rice rarely does.
Why I picked this recipe: I had never considered making cauliflower "rice" before opening this book. Adding the flavors of fried rice seemed like a good way to introduce this Paleo staple.
What worked: I was surprised to find out that I actually really liked this dish. While the final dish had a texture more like couscous than fried rice, the flavors were totally balanced and ultimately very satisfying.
What didn't: Be sure to stop processing the cauliflower before it reaches couscous size. Think long-grain rice. You may also need to process in it in batches if you don't have a mammoth food processor.
Suggested tweaks: I cooked the eggs in a separate nonstick skillet, knowing that my large stainless skillet would be no match for the sticking power of scrambled eggs (no matter how much bacon grease I used). If you're not following a strict Paleo diet, you could use soy sauce and rice vinegar in place of the coconut aminos and coconut vinegar. Paleo-friendly fish sauce is any brand that contains only anchovies and salt (Red Boat is Tam's choice).
- 3 slices bacon, cross-cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium cauliflower head, cut into uniform pieces
- 2 large eggs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ghee or fat of choice
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon coconut vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Paleo-friendly fish sauce
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it crisps up, about 15 minutes, transfer the crunchy bacon to a paper towel–lined plate with a slotted spoon.
While you’re crisping the bacon, toss the cauliflower into a food processor, and pulse until it’s the size of rice grains. Pro tip: don’t overdo it. We don’t want liquid cauliflower.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the eggs into the hot bacon drippings, and fry up a thin egg omelet. Remove the omelet from the pan, slice it into ribbons, and set aside.
Melt the ghee in the skillet over medium-high heat, and add the onions along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Once the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, throw in the sliced mushrooms. When the mushrooms are browned, add the grated ginger and stir for 30 seconds to incorporate.
Add the cauliflower “rice,” season with a bit more salt and pepper, and mix the ingredients together. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 5 minutes with the skillet covered. The “rice” is ready when it’s tender but not mushy.
Season with the coconut aminos, coconut vinegar, and fish sauce. Before serving, mix in the scallions, cilantro, omelet slices, and the reserved crispy bacon.