This past spring, I had the pleasure of working with SELF.com’s team on a series of step-by-step recipe videos. As a food stylist, my role was primarily to bring these dishes to life in an enticing manner, but a few involved a bit of recipe development work, as with the site’s take on cauliflower rice. At the time I was a bit of a cauliflower rice skeptic, but eager to try out this low-carb alternative. Because I love Korean food, and also had an inkling that cauliflower’s strong flavor would play well with other bold ingredients, I got to work coming up with a version that paired the grated cruciferous vegetable with kimchi, soy sauce, scallions, sesame seeds, and a runny-yolked poached egg.
Since then, I’ve been on a tear, sometimes making it for breakfast a few times in the span of a week. Part of this had to do with going through a Whole 30 not that long after the SELF.com shoot — as many who’ve undergone this diet will tell you, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep breakfast interesting — but it mostly was because I fell hard for this vegetable-based-take on the comfort-food classic.
The original recipe calls for soy sauce, which is a Whole 30 no-go, but was otherwise Whole-30-compliant. Seeking to swap in something with a similarly-savory flavor, I first tried (and quickly rejected) coconut aminos, which were much too sweet, instead, I found that fish sauce was just right. To those who don’t typically cook with fish sauce, it might sound like an overpowering, possibly unsavory choice for a breakfast dish, but here, (used judiciously) it works. And while I’m no longer avoiding soy, I’ve found I actually prefer to season the dish with fish sauce. (Your mileage may vary.)
For the most part, the recipe is otherwise unchanged — be sure to check out the video to see the original recipe — but I’ve tinkered with it here and there. When I have it on hand, I’ve taken to adding torn kale leaves for a hit of green, and, when I want a bit of textural contrast, a crisp-edged fried egg. Here (and in the original recipe) it’s crowned with a poached egg; either way it’s a hearty, ridiculously-healthy way to start your day.
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1/2 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or refined coconut
- 1 cup kale torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 poached eggs
- Remove and discard the cauliflower leaves. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the cauliflower, using the core as a handle. Finely chop any large pieces that remain. (Alternatively: cut the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until broken down into rice-sized pieces.)
- Heat the oil in a large (preferably not non-stick) skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, and scraping up browned bits as you go, until golden-brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the kale and scallions, and cook, stirring frequently, until the kale turns bright green and has begun to wilt, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the fish sauce, kimchi, and sesame seeds, stirring to distribute everything evenly. Season to taste with additional fish sauce (if needed).
- Top with the poached eggs and eat immediately.