Side Dish

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Vietnamese Cauliflower

Vietnamese cooking is the "light cuisine" of Asia. Its recipes are typically lower in animal protein and fat than those of China or Japan, yet, as this dish proves, rich in fresh, vibrant flavors. Here, bland cauliflower is the perfect backdrop for a lively interplay of sweet, sour, salty and savory notes. This dish can be made with or without chiles, but the vital direction here is to avoid overcooking: florets should be both tender and crunchy, never mushy. Mix it up by substituting purple or orange cauliflower - increasingly available at farmers' markets or natural food stores - for the traditional white variety.

Food as Medicine
Cauliflower provides broad-spectrum antioxidant protection from free-radical damage. Along with vitamin C and manganese, it contains phytonutrients including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol. All of these appear to work together to lower oxidative stress on cells.


1 large cauliflower, cut into bite-size flowerets
1 Tbl canola or other cooking oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl soy sauce (shoyu)
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cubed 
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup vegetable stock
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar (white or light brown)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat a wok or skillet, add oil, then shallots and garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add the soy sauce and tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower, onion, stock, lemon juice, sugar, and scallions. Reduce heat and cook until cauliflower is tender-crisp, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a little water if necessary to prevent sticking. Do not overcook.
  4. Place cauliflower in a serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro.
  5. If you want a spicy dish (and, you do!), add thinly sliced chile peppers with the shallots and garlic and serve the dish with sriracha chile sauce (sweet-hot red sauce available at Asian groceries).
  6. If you don't have good fresh tomatoes, use 1 cup of canned, diced tomatoes, drained of excess juice.


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Serves 4

Nutrients per serving:
Calories 133.8
Fat 4.3 g
Saturated fat 0.5 g
(25.4% of calories from fat)
Protein 5.8 g
Carbohydrate 21.8 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Fiber 5.5 g


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