Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Shrimp

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Chinese food.

I’ve never been to China (although I did have a rather alarming chicken feet meal in Chinatown once), so I’m really referring to Americanized Chinese fare here, which is typically loaded with MSG. In case you’re not familiar with monosodium glutamate, it’s a flavor-enhancing additive that is truly delicious but also makes you feel like absolute crap. As discussed at length in The Dude Diet, many peeps experience the following short-term symptoms after consuming a large quantity of MSG: headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and weakness.

Long story short: MSG gives you the meat sweats.

For whatever reason, I’m particularly sensitive to MSG and typically end up in the fetal position after a white carton feast feeling rather sweaty/heartburn-y (TMI?). But what really gets me is the swelling. Dear God, THE SWELLING.

Ain’t no eye masks or compression socks powerful enough to tame the morning-after-Chinese bloat. It’s out of control, and I secretly resent my roommate who will wake up a little puffy but still waifish compared to yours truly, who doubles for Violet Beauregarde after she eats the gum in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It’s a curse.

I will brave a Chinese hangover for quarterly date night at Red Farm, my favorite restaurant—Chinese or otherwise—in the West Village, but aside from that, I like to whip up MSG-free versions of my favorite Asian staples at home when a craving strikes. My go-tos are lightened up beef and broccoli and sesame-orange chicken (both recipes from the #dudedietbook), but these days I’ve been all about the cauliflower fried “rice,” and this recent iteration with shrimp was too good not to pass along to you.

I’ve waxed poetic about my obsession with cauliflower “rice” too many times before, so I’m going to skip gushing over my love of this trend-turned-staple and get right to the flava talk. The crunchy fresh veggies and tender sautéed shrimp in this rice are awesome, but the heart and soul of this recipe is the sauce. You’ve got all the usual Asian suspects up in there—soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil—but it’s the orange zest and squeeze of juice that change the game. The sauce doesn’t taste overwhelmingly “orange,” but the citrusy sweetness permeates the dish and adds a certain je ne sais quoi to each bite. Please don’t skip it—it’s really, really, ridiculously good. Especially combined with the heat from a generous sriracha drizzle.

Not only is this one-skillet wonder delicious, but it’s also packed (PACKED!!) with nutrients, won’t leave you looking/feeling like a pufferfish, and comes together in about 30 minutes. And you can always save time by using store-bought cauliflower rice (no judgment) and pre-shredded carrots. The recipe allows you to stretch a little bit of shrimp a long way, but shrimp is still pricy, so if you’re not willing to shell out or simply don’t do shrimpies, you can obviously sub chicken, pork, or beef, or go straight-up vegetarian. The rice also re-heats surprisingly well in case you’re in the market for dinners that do double duty as #sassydesklunch. (Aren’t we all?)

Oh, and just FYI, this rice happens to be gluten-free if you use tamari, paleo-friendly, and 100% Dude Diet approved, so it’s got major crowd-pleasing potential. Get after it, friends.

p.s. The chopsticks looked pretty in these glamour shots, but it’s basically impossible to eat cauliflower rice with chopsticks in real life. Use a spoon.

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Shrimp: (Serves 3-4)

Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 heaping cups florets)
2 tablespoons light sesame oil, divided (You can also use extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil.)
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced on the bias
¾ pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
2 large eggs
For the sauce:
3½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
½ teaspoon fresh orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon honey
For serving: (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds (black or white)
Sriracha

Preparing your Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Shrimp:

-Start by making the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the sauce. Briefly set aside.

-Next, prep the cauliflower “rice.” Add half of the cauliflower florets to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the florets become coarse granules that resemble rice. (Be careful not to overprocess, or you’ll end up with cauliflower mush.) Transfer the cauliflower rice to a large bowl. Repeat this process until all of the cauliflower has been riced. Briefly set aside.

-Time to cook the shrimp! Place a bowl or plate by the stove. (The shrimp will cook very quickly, and you want to get them out of the pan as soon as they’re done!) Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the shrimp to the pan in an even layer. Cook for about 1 minute, shaking the pan regularly, until the shrimp are just pink and barely opaque (reallllly try not to overcook them, peeps, they’re going to cook more later on), and transfer them to the waiting bowl/plate by the stove.

-Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes until soft and translucent.

-Add the carrots and snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes, just until tender.

-Add the cauliflower rice to the pan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring periodically, until the rice is tender but not mushy.

-Push the rice to one side of the pan. Crack the eggs into the empty half of the pan and scramble with a spatula for 1-2 minutes until set.

-Mix the eggs into the rice, then add the cooked shrimp and sauce to the pan, folding everything together with a spatula. Cook for 1 minute to allow the flavors to combine.

-Divide the rice among bowls, garnish with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with Sriracha (if using).

Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp

Yield: 3-4 servings (depending on hunger levels)

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 heaping cups florets)
  • 2 tablespoons light sesame oil, divided (You can also use extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil.)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced on the bias
  • ¾ pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • For the sauce:
  • 3½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • For serving: (optional)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds (black or white)
  • Sriracha

Instructions

  1. Start by making the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the sauce. Briefly set aside.
  2. Next, prep the cauliflower “rice.” Add half of the cauliflower florets to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the florets become coarse granules that resemble rice. (Be careful not to overprocess, or you’ll end up with cauliflower mush.) Transfer the cauliflower rice to a large bowl. Repeat this process until all of the cauliflower has been riced. Briefly set aside.
  3. Time to cook the shrimp! Place a bowl or plate by the stove. (The shrimp will cook very quickly, and you want to get them out of the pan as soon as they’re done!) Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the shrimp to the pan in an even layer. Cook for about 1 minute, shaking the pan regularly, until the shrimp are just pink and barely opaque (reallllly try not to overcook them, peeps, they’re going to cook more later on), and transfer them to the waiting bowl/plate by the stove.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes, just until tender. Add the cauliflower rice to the pan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring periodically, until the rice is tender but not mushy.
  5. Push the rice to one side of the pan. Crack the eggs into the empty half of the pan and scramble with a spatula for 1-2 minutes until set. Mix the eggs into the rice.
  6. Add the cooked shrimp and sauce to the pan, folding everything together with a spatula. Cook for 1 minute to allow the flavors to combine. Divide the rice among bowls, garnish with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with Sriracha (if using).
http://domesticate-me.com/cauliflower-fried-rice-shrimp/

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  • The only meal I remember in China was in Beijing or on the way to Beijing. It was served family style and we were with a bunch of people we didn’t know, who were fine with taking large servings of whatever they liked, never minding that there wouldn’t be any left for the last people to get served (yours truly). That was the most memorable thing about that meal. The lunch we had in Hong Kong last year, when we went to the Stanley Market had nothing to do with Chinese food. These days I’ll happily eat southeast Asian food over Chinese any time. (When I was in my 20s and 30s I went through a stage where most of what I cooked was Chinese, but I outgrew that phase.)

    • I’m with you on the Southeast Asian preference!! I love the lightness/freshness of those meals. I would love to make it to China at some point, but I’ll have to make sure to be extra aggressive at any family style meal to make sure I get a taste ;).

      • Serena, hopefully you will travel with better people than I did. My group was a shore excursion from a Holland America Line cruise. For what it’s worth, Hong Kong is wonderful, as is Shanghai; Beijing is depressing, especially with the horrendous air pollution. There is much more to China than I’ve seen, but I’m fine with not going back, except to Hong Kong, which we will visit again for a couple of days next year.

  • S Wilson

    I’m working up to the cauliflower “rice” as a staple. (Nailed the cauli roasted mashed “potatoes”, but you start with well-baked florets there.)

    Is the rice essentially just warmed through and not actually cooked? 3-4 minutes total cooking time seems like the cauli would still have some @$$ to it (my bf’s favorite descriptor).

    Is there a perfect texture we should look for?
    Thanks!

    • So, the thing about cauliflower rice is that it cooks fast and can turn into mush pretty quickly, hence the short cooking time. The mouthfeel is sort of similar to cooked quinoa versus rice, just based on its size.

      The “rice” is really going to get cooked for about 5 minutes total (because you cook it for about 3 minutes, and then add a sauce and protein and cook it another minute or 2). Start tasting after about 2 minutes–it shouldn’t taste “crunchy” at all, but it will still have a little bit of @$$ to it ;). If your medium heat is on the less aggressive side, add an extra minute or so to the cooking time, and just keep tasting! Sadly, this is one of those unavoidable “taste as you go scenarios.” Keeping my fingers crossed for your success!!!!

      • S Wilson

        Ok – got it! Looking for rice to be al dente with at least a bit of @$$ still remaining. (Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?…)

  • Whitney

    Have you tried Decoy (right underneath Red Farm, same kitchen)? Dear god, the Peking Duck feast…

  • Laurence

    Textural contrasts, exploding harmonious mouth flavors, that sumptuous Chinatown aroma… and now fancy-dance me some a dem SWIMPS! A l’orange and some heat…

    … “cauliflower rice”… et viva la différence!