Although seemingly passé in the States, for some reason cauliflower steaks have not made it to the tables of Berlin restaurants, whether plant-based or not. I’ve made this recipe over and over because the flavours are all so complimentary. This is one of the many dishes constructed for my Rouxbe certification that I urge you to try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
This Thai-inspired dish is flavored with lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, garlic, mint, Thai basil, cilantro and roasted peanuts.
Serving this dish with the Thai Peanut Sauce is optional, but HIGHLY recommended. The recipe is included below.
Note that the peanut sauce can be made a day or two in advance—just be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. Also note that you may need to thin it out a bit.
Any leftover peanut sauce can be stored for another use. For instance, it goes particularly well with dishes like fresh spring rolls.
As with any recipe, I always gather my mise en place. I’ve written about the term mise en place before – it is the French term for putting your ingredients into place. When your mise en place is ready, recipes can be prepared in a fraction of the time. Read through the recipe first so you have an idea of the process.
Above you can see all of the ingredients for the cauliflower steaks. This is the mise en place for the dish.
Cauliflower Steaks with Peanuts and Herbs
For the cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, leaves and stem trimmed*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups stock or water
1 stalk lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise
2 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Thai green chile (jalapeño or serrano), thinly sliced into rounds*
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1/3 cup mint, Thai basil and cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, unsalted, roughly chopped
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp Fish-Less Fish Sauce – recipe below
1 to 2 tbsp palm sugar, or sweetener of choice
Thai Peanut Sauce
4 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2-inch pieces galangal (or ginger)
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, minced
3 to 4 Thai chilies*
1 cup toasted, skinless peanuts, divided
1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
2 to 3 tbsp palm sugar, or sweetener of choice
1 tbsp kecap manis or soy sauce
2 tbsp tamarind pulp/paste
Preheat oven to 350F/170C
*NOTE: Do NOT core the cauliflower. The stem is needed to keep the ‘steaks’ intact. With the cauliflower sitting on its stem, cut in half through the middle. Trim the outer edge of each half to form a thick steak-like piece of cauliflower. Each piece should be approximately 1 1/2 inch thick.
In a ceramic or non-stick fry pan, brown the cauliflower steak over medium heat. Flip once and brown the other side. I did not add any oil when browning the cauliflower.
In a 9×11 baking dish, mix together the garlic, stock, bay leaves and salt. *Note: The amount of salt you add will depend on how salty your stock is to begin with. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Place the cauliflower into the liquid and cover tightly with foil. Carefully transfer to the oven and let bake for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
Ultimately, the time will depend on how thick the ‘steaks’ are and your oven.
Test the ‘steaks’ periodically. When a knife goes in somewhat easily the cauliflower is done. Note: The cauliflower should be cooked through, but still a bit firm. If it’s too soft, it will fall apart during frying.
Meanwhile, go ahead and prepare the remaining ingredients for the herb sauce and peanut sauce.
To make the sauce, preheat a fry pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil, followed by the shallots. Let cook for a minute or so and then add the ginger, garlic and chilies. Cook for another 30 seconds or so then add the reserved lime juice mixture. Next add the green onions and toss to combine. Let cook for another 30 seconds.
Once done, remove from the heat and add the fresh herbs and peanuts.
Toss to combine and taste for seasoning.
In a food processor, add the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and Thai chilies and blend until you reach a somewhat smooth paste. Remove the aromatic mixture from the food processor and set aside.
*Note: For the Thai chilies, you can use either dried or fresh chilies. The fresh chilies will just give you a brighter red color peanut sauce, like the one pictured in this recipe.
Once the aromatic mixture is removed, in the food processor, add half of the peanuts and finely chop. Roughly chop the other half by hand. Place both the finely chopped and roughly chopped peanuts into a bowl and add the tamarind pulp, along with 1 1/2 cups of the warm water.
To finish the dish, place a spoonful of peanut sauce onto the a plate and spread out to form a round. Place a cauliflower ‘steak’ into the middle. Top with the warm sauce and serve immediately.
Fish-less Fish Sauce
Can you buy fish-less fish sauce? Probably. But it’s so easy to make. Plus you know the quality of all of the ingredients you are using here. This plant-based fish sauce is just as powerful and flavorful as regular fish sauce, only it contains no fish. Instead it is made with seaweed, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, garlic, miso, peppercorns and water.
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp miso paste
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
3 cups water
2 tsp whole peppercorns
2 tbsp dried shittake mushrooms
35 g (approx. 1 large piece) seaweed (such as kombu or wakame)*
To prepare the sauce, first smash the cloves of garlic using the side of a chef’s knife.
In a medium pot, add the garlic, miso, tamari and water and whisk to combine. Then add the peppercorns, dried mushrooms and seaweed. *Note: Seaweed can be found in most Asian markets and in many health food stores.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
At this point, strain the liquid and return it to the pot. Let simmer again for another 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced a bit and is almost too salty.
If you have ever tasted regular fish sauce, you will know that it is super salty (and fishy), yet when used in a dish, it adds just the right balance of salty/fishy depth—otherwise known as “umami.” Essentially, that is what you are going for here.
Once done, remove from the heat and let cool. Then place into a glass container and refrigerate. Use 1:1 wherever a recipe calls for regular fish sauce.
There are definitely a few step in this recipe however, the sauces can all be made in advance. When making the herb sauce, just add the chopped herbs at the end. The cauliflower can also be made in advance and reheated. This is a terrific dish 🙂 Enjoy!!
and remember to cook with love!