Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp

Unless I'm medically required, you'll never catch me signing up for a restrictive diet. I'm not dropping gluten or becoming a vegan, and you'll certainly never catch me going paleo. But just because I don't buy in fully to one of those lifestyles, it doesn't mean I can't glean a few good ideas. The recent popularity of the gluten and paleo diets has led people to find a lot of creative alternatives for bread and grains, one of them being cauliflower. Although I'm not about to stop chowing down on (whole) grains, I am definitely for adding more vegetables to my diet, so I decided to give cauliflower rice a shot.

Fried rice is one of my go-to dinners when I'm short on time, have a lot of odds and ends in the fridge that need to be used up, or both, and I figured incorporating this new prep into a tried-and-true favorite was a good place to start. Other than using cauliflower, this a classic fried rice recipe, full of all the flavors you hope to find in your Chinese take-out and the perfect vehicle to test drive this new substitution. And you know what? This turned out just as wonderful as the original. Grated cauliflower has a strikingly similar texture to cooked rice and soaks up flavors just as eagerly, with the added benefit of picking up an even more delicious brown crust. It may not replace the original version, but this certainly hasn't seen its last appearance at my dinner table.

Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp
adapted from The Kitchn
serves 2

1/2 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, plus more for finishing
2 eggs, beaten
8 ounces shrimp, peeled (and deveined, if desired)
1/2 cup diced or shredded carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 scallions, sliced into thin rounds
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2-inch freshly grated ginger
2-3 cloves minced garlic 
Sriracha or other hot suace

1. Cut cauliflower into quarters. Grate cauliflower using grater or food processor until coarse.

2. Place a skillet over medium heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Scramble the eggs, breaking them into small curds. When the eggs are just barely cooked, scrape them into a clean dish and set them aside.

3.  Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, add the shrimp, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp is opaque and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.

4. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan and stir in the grated cauliflower. Make sure all the grains of cauliflower are coated with a little oil, then spread the rice into a thin layer across the bottom of the pan. Let it cook for a few minutes, then gather it together and spread it out thin again. Continue until the rice is toasted and beginning to brown.

5. Add two tablespoons of soy sauce, one tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, and ginger and garlic and stir. Add the peas and carrots, cooking until they are tender and warmed through. Stir in the eggs, shrimp, and scallions.

6. Taste and add more soy sauce and rice wine vinegar if needed. Finish with hot sauce and sesame oil, to taste

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