On my way back from a meeting the other day, I walked past a Chinese takeaway shop and all of a sudden, my nostrils were filled with nostalgia... and by that, I mean I could smell fish, sesame oil, garlic and a heck of a lot of MSG. While a part of me knows that Chinese takeaway isn’t the healthiest option, I can't help but be brought back to days of eating fried rice in a white takeaway box on the couch, laughing while watching TV with Tamsin and attempting to use chopsticks.
I thought I really wanted some but I knew my gut couldn't quite handle it. I decided it was time to combine the authentic taste of Chinese food with my supercharged cooking skills.
But, where to start?
As soon as I got home, I started googling traditional Chinese recipes to gather a few ideas: there were sweet and sour noodles, Kung Pao chicken, dumplings and wontons but, nothing was hitting the spot. Then, I thought back to my old-school favourite, fried rice, and knew what I had to do.
When creating a dish, I liken it to creating a piece of music. You start with the bass and then add layers as you go. Obviously, the base of fried rice is rice, so start from the base, because if there’s something you, Meghan Trainor and I all have in common, it’s that we’re all about that base.
I hear my phone beep and check to see what notification I’ve received, and it just so happens to be a like on insta of my cauliflower steak. Suddenly, it feels like the universe is sending me a message and the stars are aligning, because duh, obviously I have to use cauliflower rice in this fried rice! I mean, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a cauliflower rampage recently, adding it to my soups and using it as a base for some delicious Italian-style pizza so, it’s the perfect choice.
Cauliflower rice is super simple to make, and offers a low-calorie, gluten-free, low-carbohydrate and grain-free alternative to regular rice. The best part is that it actually tastes like rice, not the fake ricey thing a lot of us have come to accept. I say no more poorly chosen vegetable replacements! Who’s with me?
Just be sure when you’re blitzing the cauliflower in the food processor that you don’t over process it to avoid cauliflower mush – that’s not mush of a fried rice!
If you’re low on time and your family’s begging for food or, you can’t think of anything worse than chopping up some cauli (it’s okay, you can be real with me. We’re all friends here), most supermarkets have pre-riced cauliflower to help save you cooking and cleaning time.
Once the base is sorted, it's time to think about the flavour profiling. Cauliflower is subtle and understated, quick to absorb whatever flavour you throw its way, making ginger and garlic an obvious addition here. Not only do they add to that authentic Chinese flavour we’re going for, they also pack a nutrient nunchuck ;). I’ve used sesame oil here to add to the authenticity, but feel free to use coconut oil or whatever oil you prefer instead.
As any stir-fry maker knows, the key to easy and quick stir-frying is preparing all of your ingredients beforehand. Chop up your ginger, mince your garlic, cut the carrots and dice your onions. While I’ve chopped up my nitrate-free bacon rashers and chicken as my source of protein (and deliciousness) here, feel free to swap it out with seafood, tempeh or anything else you fancy. Make it your own. I believe in you.
This meal is healthy and hearty; a perfect main meal or large side dish. So, next time you wander past a Chinese shop and get the cravings, walk straight past, pick yourself up a cauliflower instead and enjoy this magic. Be sure to add it to your weekly dinner rotation and get excited about it for leftovers the next day because sometimes, the Chinese cravings are super real.
If you’re in need of more quick dinner recipes and tips, check out my book Supercharge Your Life.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
- 1 head cauliflower (I used an amazing purple variety here)
- 5 nitrate-free bacon rashers (slices), chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil, plus extra as needed
- 3 eggs, whisked
- Large handful chopped spring onions (scallions)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
- 90 g (31/4 oz/1 cup) sliced carrots (see tip)
- 140 g (5 oz/1 cup) frozen peas
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra to serve(optional)
- sesame seeds, to serve
- lime wedges, to serve
Roughly chop the cauliflower into florets, then pulse in a food processor until it resembles rice. Set aside.
Heat a large wok over medium heat, then fry the bacon until brown and crispy. Set aside in a bowl.
Add a splash of sesame oil to the wok, then add the eggs, tilting the wok to spread them evenly, and fry, without stirring, until cooked through. Remove from the wok and roll up, then cut into slices.
Add a little more oil to the wok, increase the heat to high, then stir-fry the spring onions, ginger and garlic for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, to seal on all sides. Add the carrot and stir-fry until just tender, then turn out into a bowl with the chicken.
Add a little more oil if needed, then add the cauliflower rice to the wok. Stir-fry for 3–5 minutes, until tender, then return all the cooked ingredients to the wok, along with the peas, anchovies, tamari, vinegar, lime juice and coriander, if using.
Serve warm, topped with sesame seeds and extra coriander, with lime wedges on the side.
For a bit of fun for the kids, cut star shapes from some of the carrots.