Sunday, 22 July 2012

Chilli-fried cauliflower

While I am not picking much at the moment - just handfulls of snow peas, buckets of rocket, spring onions and herbs -  I still have a bit of a stash of cabbage and cauliflower in the fridge as well as many containers of frozen chillies in the freezer.

The great thing about brassicas, especially when they have only travelled from the back yard to the kitchen, is they keep so well in the fridge. Nevertheless it's time to use some of them up!

I decided that I did need to finish the cauliflower and dug around in an old cookbook - The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon. It's one of those survey books that covers many countries across Asia from Pakistan to Japan. This dish is in the Malaysian section.

Here is Charmaine looking absolutely georgeous.

This cookbook like a  similar Middle Eastern  compilation  by Tess Mallos was given to me a million years ago by a lovely woman with wild red hair who was the mother of a boyfriend of mine. I wonder if she could imagine that I still use them both from time to time?

It's pretty tatty now, but all good cookbooks get tatty with use, pages get stuck together with food or they fall out from being opened too often on that particular page. Sometimes that's the way to find the page you want.  It's the first time I have cooked this recipe.

Chilli-fried cauliflower (* from the garden)
(Sambal Goreng Kembang)

I have cut the recipe in half and also added some coriander at the end, otherwise it is unchanged.

peanut oil
2 chillies*, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
250 g cauliflower* cut into small florets
1 tblsp hot water

Heat oil in wok and fry chillies, onion and garlic over a low heat, stirring frequently until onion is soft and golden. Add shrimp past and fry for a minute longer. Add salt and cauliflower and toss and stir constantly until cauliflower is mixed in with the onion and chilli mix. Sprinkle with hot water and cover allowing the cauliflower to steam to your preferred texture. I tossed coriander over it at the finish.  

How was it?  It was ok... it was a bit too shrimp paste-flavoured for me, so I brightened it with a squirt of lime*. I think it needs both the coriander and the lime...


  1. I have that exact same book! It was given to me by a friend, even more than a million years ago. I haven't looked in it for years. Thanks for reminding me of it, I'll dig it out and have a browse. I might try that recipe sometime. Anything with chilli appeals!

    1. It is worth diving into occassionally. There are plenty of recipes with chilli!

  2. I love the sound of both your recipes. Charmaine is looking gorgeous, what a great story as to how you came by the recipe.

    1. Oh thanks Kirsty. It's got me thinking of that wild haired red head!

  3. I too have the book - I found it in an op shop quite recently and really enjoy it. Although I haven't tried it I would try that recipe without the water. I find that cauliflower always tastes better without water going anywhere near it. I cook a cauliflower and ginger dish in much the same way and never add water and it still cooks well, without sticking.

    1. Oh , how funny! Charmaine obviously got around. Thanks for your tip on cauli cooking!

  4. Louise, I have this book, too! Would you believe I bought a pirated (daoban) copy from the big foreign language book store in Taipei, probably 30 years ago. (God that makes me sound old!) It has black and white photos, xerox copies of the original. I remember how exotic it seemed to me at the time - all those odd Asian recipes, and an Australian author! I still refer to it, and her recipe for dahl is the best of anyone's. Same for beef rendang. Great to see you refer to it!

    1. Oh Terry, that is too funny, Charmaine has got around. It seems that many have her on their bookshelf. I have made her Beef Rendang too. It is fabulous!

  5. I have to be the first not to have ever even seen . But the recipe sounds nice, will use something else like a curry paste rather than the shrimp paste. Looks tasty

  6. My mum has a book like that but I think it's the barbecue book. That recipe looks yum as ! My kids are not that keen on Cauli but they love spicy food so this should be a winner.



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