This recipe was last updated February 2021.
Cauliflower Adobo: A perfect dinner, comin' atcha! One of our favorite vegan cauliflower recipes is here for all of our weeknight dinner needs.
We are always on the hunt for light and/or vegetarian dinners, and this one kept popping up on my Instagram several weeks ago. I'm a huge fan of Chicken Adobo, a soy/vinegar Filipino dish. This vegetarian adobo version features cauliflower as the main ingredient and is different + much lighter.
The sauce here is suuuuuper umami and bright from the vinegar, which I love. There's some sugar here as well, and I love how pungent the sauce gets after it simmers a little bit.
The method here is so simple: sear some cauliflower for tons of flavor, then simmer it in the adobo sauce for a few minutes until it's cooked. The whole dish is done in 30 minutes, maybe less, and YES PLEASE extra sauce all over some rice you'll serve this.
Cauliflower Adobo Ingredients
Cauliflower, garlic cloves, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. You'll also need some olive oil for searing the cauliflower and some rice for serving, and done!
To prep the cauliflower, peel off any outer green leaves and cut the cauliflower into wedges. Leave the stem intact - it's perfectly edible and will hold the wedges of cauliflower together. If any bits of cauliflower fall off, reserve them to add in the sauce when you simmer the dish.
PS if you are big into cauliflower (we are), buy two heads at a time and prep them both at once! I love cauliflower in all kinds of curry, roasted cauliflower soup, and we love this whole-roasted cauliflower with garlic butter.
When you're ready to cook (I start my rice around this time and set a timer, then let it sit in the warm pot off the heat when it's done), heat a large skillet (with a lid for simmering) to medium-high heat with a drizzle of any cooking oil you like using.
Place the cauliflower in the skillet in one even layer, and sear it for about 5 minutes on just one side. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. When the cauliflower is dark on one side, remove it to a plate and reduce the heat on the skillet to low.
At this point, quickly dump in all of the sauce ingredients and garlic cloves. Stir to combine and add the cauliflower back in, seared side UP so the uncooked side gets some love.
Now we simmer! Cover the skillet and simmer the cauliflower for 15 minutes until it's tender, then remove the lid and increase the heat to bring the sauce to a bubble. Let the sauce bubble and reduce just for a minute or two.
Check the cauliflower with a fork to be sure it's nice and soft all the way through. Done!
I love how simple this is, but with zero shortage on flavor or texture. Cauliflower is a great substitute for meat in that way - it holds up so well and develops almost a creamy texture as it cooks, and searing it before we add the sauce here adds even more with the caramelization.
I do think that if you wanted to add meat to this you could, some thinly sliced seared chicken breasts or even pieces of pork would be wonderful simmered in the sauce for the last 5 minutes or so. If you ever have a chance to have pork adobo, take it.
BUT, for a dinner that checks a ton of -free (gluten, dairy, meat, etc) boxes, this dish on its own is really wonderful. Try it soon!Print
Tangy, umami sauce with seared and simmered cauliflower is the perfect rift on traditional Chicken Adobo, and this version is done in just half an hour!
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 8-10 wedges
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- hot cooked rice for serving
- Preheat a large lidded skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. Add the cauliflower in one layer and sear on one side for about 5 minutes until very browned. Do this in batches if necessary. When the cauliflower is browned, remove to a plate and reduce the heat on the skillet to low.
- Quickly add the sauce ingredients to the skillet and return the cauliflower to the pan, seared side UP.
- Cover the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender, then remove the lid and increase the heat on the sauce until it bubbles. Let the sauce bubble and reduce just for a minute or two.
- Serve on plates with freshly cooked rice, scallions, or any other green herbs you like. Drizzle the sauce over everything!
Recipe adapted from the failing NY Times.
The garlic here is pretty strong; feel free to mince it to infuse it into the entire sauce without any large bites of garlic.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 20
- Category: Vegan
- Cuisine: Filipino
Keywords: Cauliflower adobo, vegan cauliflower recipes, cauliflower recipes vegan, cauliflower recipes healthy, cauliflower recipe healthy, adobo sauce, vegetarian adobo