Braised crunchy cauliflower モンパルナスのカリフラワー炒め

japanese cake

This is a very simple and healthy dish that goes very well with sake or wine. I first encountered this recipe in a Japanese cook book entitled “men’s drinking snacks” 俺の肴 which was given to me by my high school classmate 20 some years ago. This recipe was by a famous Japanese painter/artist, late Taro Okamoto 岡本太郎. According to him, while he was living in Montparnasse, Paris, his Chinese friend, who was a good cook, used to make this dish as an hors d’oeuvre and he loved it. I have been making this for some time but I deviated slightly from the original recipe by adding red pepper flakes and substituting rice vinegar for regular white vinegar, added towards the end of cooking.

Break a whole head of cauliflower into small floweretts.  Heat 2-3 tbs of peanut or vegetable oil in a wok, add red pepper flakes (as much as you like) and chopped garlic (I use 3-4 cloves but use your discretion). Briefly saute until fragrant but do not brown. Add the cauliflower and saute on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add half a cup of chicken broth and put on a tight lid. Cook (steam) for 5 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked but still crunchy (it will keep cooking after it is removed from the flame). Add 1-2 tbs of rice vinegar and stir. Add salt to taste and remove from the heat. There should be only a small amount of liquid left on the bottom of the wok.

You could serve this hot or warm but it is best the next day. The combination of crunch, hot pepper, garlic and subtle vinegar taste all work together. Quoting from Taro Okamoto, “Once you taste this dish, you can not eat over-cooked limp cauliflower in a restaurant.”

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