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Spicy Garlic Cauliflower & Minced Pork

November 2, 2015

NOVEMBER 1st, 2015 — 2nd entry after returning from my trip to Western China. This is a common dish throughout Xinjiang, and probably many other parts of China. By the sound of it, nothing special about sauteed cauliflower topped with minced meat. Frankly, however, I now find this to be the tastiest way to prepare cauliflower. (The meat, I realize, is essential for providing the full flavor for the veggies.)

Cauliflower and PancakeSo what did you do?
(PS I served 8 people with this recipe, so take note of those measurements and do your own math.)

First I cooked the cauliflower. A tip I’ve picked up from other recipes is that roasting your cauliflower with some salt and drizzled olive oil separately achieves the crispy texture without having to resort to highly oily sautéeing. So I chopped 2 heads of cauliflower into small florets and laid them on a baking sheet in a single layer. They were roasted for 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees.

For the minced pork, I first finely chopped all of my aromatics: 8 cloves of garlic, a 2-inch knob of ginger, and 2 serrano chili peppers. I seeded the chiles to diminish their heat.

In a hot saucepan, I sautéed the aromatics in oil, and then added in 1 lb lean ground pork. Because this is primarily a veggie dish, I didn’t feel I needed to add more pork, since it’s more of a topping, like for mapo tofu. Go ahead and add more if you’d like to, however. As the pork browned, I added ~1-2 tsp salt, splashes of soy sauce, splashes of sesame oil, ~1-2 tsp five-spice, and <1 tsp ground cumin, to taste.

Toss the roasted cauliflower florets and the pork topping in a large bowl. Because I wanted my dish a bit spicier, I added in some sriracha. Topped it off with fresh green onion. (I probably should have cooked the green onion but I forgot.)

You can serve over rice or noodles; I served with some Green Onion Egg Pancakes.

Lessons learned?
In retrospect, I could have added in another chile for extra heat, because I ended up drizzling extra sriracha over the final dish after tasting it.
Also, the more olive oil you add to your cauliflower before roasting, the crunchier they’ll be. Mine were relatively soft, so I just let them roast a bit longer than 25 minutes.


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