If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking through an open street market in some foreign city you know that there is nothing quite like the overwhelming tidal wave that it is to the senses. Brightly decorated little food stands with colorful signs describing their fare. The excited chatter of vendors striking deals and calling in new patrons. Steel scraping hot steel as charred woks barely contain the freshly prepared morsels that dance just above sizzling hot oil.
The puzzling aroma of a dozen different kinds of food, simultaneously prepared and intermingled with the coarse and rugged scents of a city only slightly more gritty than the seasoned locals who work its bustling streets. And the flavor: no other prepared food can truly replicate the simple tastes and complex experience that it is to stand in the open air and eat unfamiliar food that was prepared right before you.
Possibly the most universally shared dish in the entire world is fried rice. Almost every culture has some variety of it and the possibilities are truly endless. And so it would seem now that this is even true for those of us who have gone grain free. Yep, you heard that right. Grain free fried rice.
I’ve now made this particular variety for several friends, without telling them about the switch-up, and every time they are not only in love with the dish, but utterly stunned when I tell them that there’s no rice in it. And even more dumbfounded when I explain how the cauliflower works!
Read this blog for any time at all, and you’ll quickly find that I’m not a big fan of the “secret substitutions” approach to unique dietary needs, but in this case, I like to surprise people because it’s just so fun to see their reaction.
If you’ve ever made cauliflower “rice” then you know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, then now is the perfect time to give it a shot. It’s an incredibly simple dish to make and it never fails to please even the pickiest of eaters. This dish is a Vietnamese style fried rice with shrimp, sausage*, fresh veggies (even the “rice”!) and savory herbs. So close your eyes, picture yourself in some bustling street market and fire up your wok. You’re going to love where this dish takes you!
*Look for a ‘Paleo’ friendly and gluten free sausage brand through your local farmer/butcher or try brands like U.S. Wellness Meats or Wellshire Farms. There are other brands out there so just go searching and you’ll find something that works for you.
Vietnamese Cauli-Fried Rice W/Nước Chấm
For the Nước Chấm dressing
1/4 cup water
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (to taste)
2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce (Get it HERE)
1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon honey (omit for 21DSD & Whole30)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar
Chili flakes optional
For the fried rice:
3 cups of grated cauliflower (about 1 large head)
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or preferred cooking oil
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup asparagus, diced
1 cup sausage, chopped (traditionally Chinese sausage is used, I used Kielbasa)
1 cup raw shrimp (about 9 large 16 count shrimp, raw or cooked) chopped
2 large eggs, cracked & lightly beaten
1/4 cup spring onions, chopped
Coarse sea salt and cracked pepper to taste (less salt is needed if using the sauce below)
1. Prepare the dressing; In a mason jar, combine all the Nước chấm Sauce ingredients. Shake or mix well. Set aside till ready to use. Can be sprinkle as desired onto fried rice, salads or even use a dipping sauce.
2. Prepare the “rice”: Grate the Cauliflower using a food processor with the grater attachment or use a hand grater. Using the food processor w/o attachment will work to, but the texture won’t be as light.
3. Prep the rest of the ingredients as stated in the ingredient list above. I find it helpful to put each ingredient into a separate prep bowl.
Note: Flat bottomed woks work best on a stove top as opposed to the traditional style. You could also use a regular frying pan. Two woks/pans work best because if you overfill a pan when stir frying, you will cause the ingredients to steam instead of brown and ‘fry’. It is important to have room to spread out the ingredients while cooking. For this reason I just cook the ‘rice’ in one pan and the veggies in the other, then combine at the end.
4. Add the oil, the onions, garlic and carrots to one of the woks/pan, preheated over medium heat. Fry till the onions till soft and translucent.
5. While the onions, garlic and carrots are cooking, heat the other wok/pan over high heat, add about 1 tablespoon oil. Now add the cauliflower and cook the same as you would the veggies/protein. Spreading out and frying the cauliflower, allowing it to brown some, tossing and allowing to brown again. This will take about 5 minutes on a high heat. (High heat and fast cooking is what keeps it from being soggy. Find a temp on your stovetop that works for you.)
6. Make a well in the center of the cauliflower. Add the beaten egg and stir until it just begins to thicken, but is still wet. Toss the egg throughout the ‘rice’. Continue with tossing till the rice is no longer wet. Rice should become nice and fluffy with bits of egg throughout, not large scrambles of it…unless you like it that way. Remove from heat when done and set aside.
7. NOW back to the pan with the onions: Add the asparagus, sausage to the onion mixture, cooking the meat is done. Add the shrimp last and continue to fry, stirring & tossing the ingredients often. Remember to spread ingredients out evenly in the pan between ‘tossing’. This will ensure even browning and NO ‘steaming’
8. Finally, combine the contents of both pans/woks into one pan and toss till evenly mixed.
Season and garnish: Garnish by tossing with the spring onions, cilantro and just a splash of Nước Chấm per serving (or just fish sauce). Serve.
I LOVE your sauce. And the sausage, shrimp and asparagus with cilantro…"shut up" is what I whispered to my computer. Outrageous. This recipe is just lovely.
I also make several cauliflower "rice" dishes, one being fried rice. But I roast it first, then chop it in the food processor. Also makes a great Spanish rice. But I love how you use it raw and cook it with the other ingredients. So cleaver. I can imagine it holds its shape and texture nicely this way.
Thank you for another amazing, inspiring recipe. Have a great weekend.
Jenni Hulet says
I've been wanting to do a Spsnish rice. I keep getting stuck here though! Lol! I MUST try roasting it next time. Sounds delish!
You've just taken me back to Thailand and made me want to go to Vietnam! Thanks for that. I love the looks of this. I've made cauli fried rice several times with different ingredients and it's a fav around here. Gotta love the cauliflower! I've made fauxtato salad with it, mashed fauxtatoes, even a pizza crust!
Jenni Hulet says
It really is do versatile and I love how it inserts more veggies into my kids diet with zero complaints!
Makes me want to go back Asian travelling spree…The sauce is something I'd love to try on other dishes. This dish is so flavorful indeed. A must try!
This is genius and it looks amazing!
SunnyB @ andloveittoo says
I've had a difficult time getting my 'rice' to be the right texture. I love the idea of grating it…we will definitely be giving this a try sometime soon! xoxo
Please, please, PLEASE create a cookbook!! I absolutely love your blog, and would back you 100%. 😉 Continue being and bringing the awesome!
I soooo agree with you on that one Chelsea!!! 🙂
Mrs. Ed says
Great Blog! I can't wait to try many of the recipes here!!!
This looks amazing! Just pinned your recipe – thanks for sharing.
What a GREAT idea to use cauliflower!!! Love it!
thyme (Sarah) says
This is dish I am definitely going to make…and I have a huge head of cauliflower in the fridge. We have eliminated most rice from our diet and this would be such a versatile substitution for us. Thank you!
Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen says
Thanks for sharing the link to the fish sauce you used. I've been looking for one without any added sugar, and can't wait to give this a try!
Oh, and your fried "rice" recipe looks amazing!
melissa @ the delicious wife says
OMG…I'm totally make this! This looks absolutely delicious! It looks like the real deal…something at a hawker stand in Singapore. Oh, how I miss Singapore. This is fill that void in my heart…won't dare take my toddler on a 21 hour flight.
We made this tonight for dinner and LOVED it! My husband said he likes it better than actual rice!
A little off the topic, but have you considered trying to make a grain free Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepe?) I would be SO grateful! My mom grew up in Vietnam and it is one of my favorite foods that I would love to see "Paleo-fied". :o)
Lindsay Jo Design says
I am sitting here, in front of my screen, drooling profusely. I have made cauliflower rice (and mashed potatoes) many a time, but this looks absolutely amazing! I am not huge into sausage, so I will probably just do shrimp. Thank you so much for this! Lovely photos. I should pick up a few of those fun boxes…
Thyme (Sarah) says
O.K., I'm back…made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! Everyone loved it and we all felt like we were eating fried RICE. You were right…I had to 'fry' the cauliflower in two batches in order to get it to 'crisp'. I think next time, I'll just stir fry the cauliflower by itself and then mix it in with the rest of the delicious ingredients. Loved the sauce…Thank you for a delicious and low carb recipe!
This one is great, too… love to stay healthy like those kale chips.. I have read earlier… and this oriental flavor is awesome , too! I wanna try this recipe… but I like those hot and spicy versions… do you have any… or I'd rather experiment? 🙂
Wow, your nuoc cham is almost identical to the one I made a couple months ago! It is definitely a staple in Vietnamese cooking and we were missing it SO much on GAPS. (My husband is Vietnamese and it is our favorite cuisine.) We, too, LOVE Red Boat fish sauce. Oh yummmm.
I'm gonna try this fried rice recipe tonight. I've never seen it with nuoc cham added to the fried rice, but we'll have to give it a try!
Jenni Hulet says
Thanks! I added the nuoc cham instead of just fish sauce so my kids would like it more! It worked. Now we just love it this way.
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Had this for dinner tonight and just loved it….what a satisfying meal!! With this technique..I am going to try my spanish rice!! Awesome!
I still make this all the time, and it is still my very favorite way to make cauli rice of any flavor!! Thank you!
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thanks for sharing.
Great Vietnam Holiday says
This is a great article, really interesting!
I made this tonight and it was delish! Thanks!
I made this with chicken, and added mushrooms, broccoli and celery (didn't have asparagus, shrimp or pork). It was yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe!
Joshua @ Slim Palate says
This recipe is pure genius. I love the ingredients used, and I have been thinking about fried rice so much lately. This is so perfect. Plus as always the photographs are pure gorgeousness. I love what you did with the set up and how its all kind of street food styled and the little stains that are on the box. Just amazing. Great job Jenni!
riya singh says
THANK YOU for these awesome recipe’s.
chowringhee lane karol bagh
Is this a portion for one person only?
The Urban Poser says
This would likely feed 4 or more depending on if it’s a side or main dish.
I know I am late to the party, but THANK YOU! I have been doing low carb for many years but my husband was just told to go on a lower carb diet. His favorite kind of food is Asian (any type) so the idea of no rice was painful. I made half a recipe for the two of us for dinner tonight…he was (no kidding) pulling the last pieces out of the bowl with his fingers. I am going to look through your other recipes – I’m sure there are others he will like too!
Margaret Pears says
I tred this cauli rice last night and it was delicious no carbs!!Thank you.
Absolutely loved IT! not crazy about cauli rice except for this recipe.
Easy to make, all the flavors and the dressing as a condiment delicious!
adding this recipe to weeknight menu
would you suggest doubling this recipe for a family of 4?
Jenni Hulet says
I make this for my family of 4, so it just depends on your families eating habits.
I have made this recipe 50 times since i found it two years ago. It’s so good that i dream about it, and have told all my friends. it’s really a keeper.
Jenni Hulet says
Ahh yes! That is so awesome. Glad you enjoy it!
How many does this serve? would love to make – wondering if i would have to double it for 4 people!
Jenni Hulet says
I suppose it depends, my family of 4 eats it.