Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice

August 18, 2014

Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice

I have come to be very suspicious of the phrase “even better than the real thing” when used in the context of food.Take for instance Cheez Whiz, Cool Whip, or that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not” thing.
When I hear people claiming that those products are just as good – or even better – than real cheese, whipped cream or butter, I’m like “Have you ever made a side by side comparison? No? Do it, then we can talk.”
My 9-year nephew used to say that instant mashed potatoes were “Awesome!”
That was until I made him the real mashed potatoes: with Yukon gold, milk, butter and cheese.
The moment he tasted it, he gave me the biggest smile ever and adieu instant stuff, there’s only place for real mashed potatoes in his life now.

Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice

When it comes to cauliflower fried rice (or faux-rice as some like to call it) well…I dunno, I dunno.
Is it better than the fried rice?
On some days yes - others a definite no. It really depends on the mood I’m in.
Let’s just say that I love fried rice, and sometimes make my own fried rice at home, which is delicious. But when I want to cut down on my carbs, I opt for cauliflower fried rice.
I don’t think I can't decide if I like one better than the other, they’re both super good…so who cares in the end?
Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice 
I adapted this recipe from James Oseland’s ‘Cradle of Flavor’ – my to go cookbook for Indonesian/Malaysian/Singapore recipes.
Nasi goreng is the Javanese version of fried rice, and it’s so so delish.
Since I wasn’t sure I could actually call this recipe nasi goreng - as it doesn’t actually contain the key ingredient rice, or nasi in Indo and Malay – I decide to go with “Nasi Goreng-style”.
The flavors are all there, I just used cauli rice instead of rice.
In Oseland’s cookbook, he indicates that a truly authentic Indonesian nasi goreng is plain and simple, consisting of leftover rice, stir-fried with a flavoring spicy paste. Other stuff, such as chicken, fish or veggies are rarely served with it.
Although it’s often topped with a fried egg – that’s how they roll in Indonesia.

This nasi goreng-style cauliflower fried rice turned out to be an amazing meal. The portions are generous and you get a serving or two of veggies with your meal.
Better than nasi goreng made with rice? I don’t think it really matters.
Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice
Nasi Goreng-Style Cauliflower Fried “Rice”                                                  Print this recipe!
Adapted from Cradle of Flavor 

A word of warning: Though many have described shrimp paste as pungent, I'd go so far as to describe its smell as plain stinky. Its malodorous quality only intensifies when toasted.
In fact, while browning, the shrimp paste will emit an alarmingly smoky, burning smell, which is an indication that it is toasting up nicely.
Your kitchen will stink as an old sneaker, or a gym bag (or whatever other foot-related image comes to mind). It’ll all be worth it in the end though, as the toasted shrimp paste provides a unique savory depth to this dish. 
Serves 4 

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
4 shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 to 3 red chiles, seeded
2 teaspoons raw coconut palm sugar (I used Madhava)
2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)*
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste (belacan)
4 pastured eggs

* if you can’t find it, use 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos (or wheat free soy sauce) mixed with one teaspoon of honey.

Heat a wok (or a large skillet) over low heat, add shrimp paste and toast until it becomes dry and aromatic (as mentioned above, your kitchen will smell badly, don’t worry though!)
Toasted shrimp paste should be powdery and look like tiny granules.
Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Combine shallots, garlic cloves, red chiles and toasted shrimp paste in a food processor (or a blender) and blend until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
Wash the food processor and rice the cauliflower in batches (it should be evenly chopped but not completely pulverized).
Lightly grease the wok and over medium-high heat. Fry the eggs in batches, until well done. Set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the wok over high heat. Add paste and stir-fry until aromatic (or when the oil separates).
Add cauliflower rice and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. The cauliflower rice should be soft but still retain a bit of crunch.
Add kecap manis and coconut sugar into the cauliflower rice and stir-fry until fragrant.
Transfer to serving plates, top with fried egg and serve immediately.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 290 calories, 21 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein.


  1. I love fried rice, but we don't eat it anymore since the only time we usually ate it was out at a restaurant...most, if not all, are not gluten free. Might have to try some homemade. And, I like the twist of using the cauliflower.

    1. it's really good Lauren, you should try it for yourself!

  2. I like both fried rice and cauliflower too, (and Cradle of Flavor rocks)! I was spoiled enough to grow up on the 'real thing' so to speak - so when I tried Cool Whip and Cheez Whiz it tasted terrible to me - no comparison to the real thing! Thanks for another great recipe, I'm always craving Asian flavors so this is going on the list.

  3. Wait - my kitchen will "stink as an old sneaker, or a gym bag" ...hmmm...I guess this would ward off any of my daughter's potential suitors - am off to get my hands on some stinky shrimp paste PRONTO!!!
    Mike - love the coloring of your cauli-fried rice - the red chilies - are they dried or fresh?

    1. The shrimp paste smell is a nasty thing (think about fish sauce) but you won't taste it in the final dish. Promised!

  4. With this recipe you've ventured into one of my very favorite cuisines. Nasi goreng is one of my favorite dishes, so I'm going to have to try this. I like the idea that it's lower calorie than the 'real' thing.

    1. I'm such a sucker for Nasi Goreng's one of my fave dishes ever!

  5. Hi Mike, thanks for the heads up on the shrimp paste, good to know> What a wonderful dish, love your cauliflower recipes.

  6. I am here, shaking my head in disbelief, that soon I might be accused of blog-plagiarism... me, a completely honest, sin-free human being.

    I just started writing a blog post on cauli-couscous... my first time using cauliflower in place of some other goodie, and wow, I loved it!

    I shall modify my post because its beginning sounds quite a bit like your article! I say, great minds blog alike. ;-)

    1. Don't do that Sally, there's no plagiarism going on...great minds thinks alike indeed. That's about it.

  7. Hahaha...I love your description of the shrimp paste. I've been tempted to use it in the past, but I've always found a way around it because of the exact odoriferous qualities that you so lovingly describe. I never cease to be amazed at what you can do with a cauliflower. Nice work! #WolfpackEats

  8. Yum! This looks amazing! I need to at least give it a try! And I'm not sure I'll be able to find shrimp paste around here, but I'll take your warning into consideration. =)

    1. You can find shrimp paste in an import/Asian store, it's a pretty common ingredient!

  9. hmmm... an old sneaker or gym bag; way to sell the post :) teasing. i have no problem with rice and love it fried too but there's also something to be said for dietary variety. this sounds amazing.

    1. I know right? Ha! But I needed to disclose it, because the smell is nasty. Like really nasty!

  10. "Your kitchen will stink as an old sneaker, or a gym bag (or whatever other foot-related image comes to mind)".... hahaha that was awesome.

    Love this take on fried rice using cauliflower. I've come to the conclusion that you are, hands down, the definitive king of all things cauliflower. I bow down to you, Alpha. I am not worthy.

    1. You are always worthy my man, always! #WolfPackEats

  11. I'm from Malaysia and I'm so pleased to see a healthy version of nasi goreng!! :D