This flavour-packed recipe is delicious as vegetable side dish, but it’s also robust enough to be a vegetarian entree! Cauliflower is seared to develop a more intense flavour, then stir-fried a curry paste that is the most perfect flavour match with this healthy vegetable. Tart tomatoes offer pops of brightness…it’s really a stunning dish that is incredible quick and easy to make. A “cauliflower stir-fry” may not be the most exciting sounding dish, but trust me, this is on another level!

The searing step might seem like extra work you are tempted to skip, but that is the step that makes all the difference. When you sear the vegetable you brown it which means you’re developing bold, intense flavour. AND you’re also drying it out of its liquid which means you’re concentrating the natural flavours. If you throw them into the wok 1) they’ll take way longer to cook in the wok, so you’re not really saving that much time, and 2) you’ll be eating an equivalent of boiled cauliflower by the time it’s done in terms of textture, so it’s not gonna be nearly as good.


  • 350 g cauliflower florets
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce or a pinch of salt (see note)
  • cup coconut milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry paste, (store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika , (optional, for added colour)
  • 1-½ tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 dash fish sauce , or soy sauce as needed (this will depend on the saltiness of your curry paste)
  • ¼ onion
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro , for garnish, optional
  • Fried shallots , (optional, recipe below, see note)


1. In a large skillet, add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Turn the heat on to medium high, and before the oil gets too hot, add cauliflower and sprinkle on some fish sauce or salt, toss briefly to mix. Arrange the cauliflower so that the flat side is touching the pan. Let sear for a few minutes until browned. You can just sear them on one side if you wanna be quick, or you can flip the florets and sear them on another side as well. We’re not looking for them to be fully cooked at this point, the goal is to develop browning and flavour; we will finish cooking them in the wok.
2. In a wok, add half of the coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in curry paste and paprika (if using) then reduce the coconut milk until thick and the coconut oil starts separating from the paste and the paste is sizzling. Add palm sugar and stir to mostly dissolve it. Add the remaining coconut milk and stir to mix.
3. Add onions, stir briefly to break up the layers, then add the cauliflower and keep tossing until the florets are done to your liking. Timing will depend on how cooked the cauliflower is from searing, and how soft/firm you like them. If the sauce dries up before the cauliflower cooks, add a splash of water to buy it some more time. Once cauliflower is done, add tomatoes and toss for 30 seconds to heat through. Turn off the heat, then taste add more fish sauce or soy sauce as needed. Toss in cilantro to finish. Plate and top with some fried shallots if you wish, and serve with jasmine rice! Enjoy!
4. How to Make Fried Shallots : Note: you can fry as much shallots as you want, but they do shrink a lot when fried so make sure you cut up more than you want to end up with.
5. Thinly slice shallots as evenly as possible.
6. Lay the sliced shallots out on a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle some salt over the shallot, making sure all pieces are salted. Let the shallots sit for about 10 minutes and you’ll notice the salt drawing moisture out from the shallots.
7. Take a piece of paper towel and press it onto the shallots to absorb the water.
8. Add about 1″ of oil to a pot, and heat it until it reaches 275-300°F (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can just add the shallots to cold oil and let heat it up together until they’re bubbling, but it takes longer to heat up that way.)
9. Add the shallots to the oil and fry them on medium-low heat (gentle bubbling), stirring frequently, until they turn golden brown and the bubbling has subsided. Remove them slightly before they reach the desired colour as they will continue to darken.
10. Let them drain off and cool on a plate lined with paper towel.


You can actually buy fried shallots in a jar from Asian grocery stores, but I prefer to fry them myself as the flavour is better. Once shallots are fried, you can keep them in an air-tight container for a few days, but they will lose crispness eventually so it’s best not to make too much. 

I use fish sauce in the recipe, but to make it vegetarian/vegan, simply use soy sauce or salt instead.




Pailin Chongchitnant


2 servings




Asian : South East Asian : Thai