Spice up the dinner table with this delicious cauliflower stir fry! Savory shiitake mushrooms, aromatic chili sauce, and fresh cauliflower all come together for a quick and easy meal that will have you and your family coming back for seconds. 

Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry with Shiitake in Numbing Chili Sauce

Are you looking for a new way to enjoy cauliflower? Or maybe you’ve been meaning to try a new type of Asian-inspired recipe. Either way, this delectable stir-fry dish is a great place to start. Introducing Cauliflower Stir Fry with Shiitake in Numbing Chili Sauce—an easy-to-make, savory dish with a unique, yet oh-so-tasty kick. 

The best part is that it comes together in under 30 minutes. In this article, we will look at the different elements of this stir fry, such as the numbing chili sauce and the crispy, quickly stir-fried cauliflower and shiitake, as well as show you how to make it, step by step. So get your ingredients ready and let’s get cooking; you’re just minutes away from an exciting and delicious dinner that’s better than Chinese takeouts.

Preparing the Ingredients for the Cauliflower Stir Fry

To begin, let’s prepare the ingredients! 

  • Cauliflower. A head of cauliflower is the center of our dish. It’s high in fiber and has an amazing level of Vitamin C. You can use regular cauliflower or flowering cauliflower (aka Fioretto cauliflower), which has a longer stem and small florets. Both work. Please note that regular cauliflower takes a bit longer to cook than flowering cauliflower. 
  • Shiitake mushrooms. Either fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms work well for this recipe. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in warm water beforehand. Oyster mushrooms can be used as an alternative to shiitake mushrooms, so feel free to use whichever you prefer.
  • Yellow onions. Compared to white onions, yellow onions’ flavor, and texture stand up well to heat. In fact, their sweetness intensifies with long cook times, making them the ideal choice for stir fry.
  • A couple of garlic cloves and a chunk of fresh ginger. Both minced garlic and minced ginger are called for. They are the essential aromatics in many Chinese stir-fry dishes such as Salt and Pepper Shrimp.
  • Szechuan numbing pepper. It is quite different than black pepper or chili pepper. This spice produces a tingling, numbing effect when eaten. It’s often used in Szechuan dishes like Mapo Tofu. I use the whole peppercorns. Ground Szechuan peppers work even better.
  • Scallions. Slivered for garnishing.

All that’s left is the numbing chili sauce to bind everything together. Read on.

Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry Ingredients

How to Prepare the Numbing Chili Sauce

When doing a stir fry, prepare the cooking sauce before you even turn on the heat because stir fry is usually quick and the heat is relatively high. With the cooking sauce prepared ahead of time, it will facilitate your cooking process and avoid overcooking. To prepare the chili numbing sauce, you will need –

  • Stock or water. If you don’t have any stock on hand, feel free to use water in the sauce.
  • Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry. This is another commonly used and somewhat essential ingredient in authentic Chinese cooking. You can find Shaoxing wine in most Asian markets or on Amazon
  • Tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos. If you use coconut aminos, you might want to add a pinch of salt due to the low-sodium content. 
  • Doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste). This one is hot, and it’s not gluten-free. If you are not sure about the level of spiciness, start with 1 tablespoon and take it from there. For a gluten-free alternative, try this homemade hot chili oil. You will want to scoop up some pepper solids and add them to your chili numbing sauce. That’s my choice for making Gluten-Free Mapo Tofu and Vegan Mapo Tofu
  • Cornstarch. Finally, a thickening agent to turn the chili numbing sauce into a nice glaze for your cauliflower stir fry after cooking. You don’t need a lot, one or two teaspoons will do.
Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry

I noticed that there are quite a few Asian condiments here you might not be familiar with. Check out Your Guide to Asian Sauces if you’d like to learn more and potentially cook with Asian condiments more often. 

To prepare the numbing chili sauce, combine all the ingredients listed above in a small bowl and whisk until even. Now, we are ready to heat up the stove to cook it up!

Assembling the Cauliflower Stir Fry

  1. Cook the cauliflower: Heat cooking oil in a large sautépan or a wok over high heat. Add the cauliflower florets, spread them out, and let them char a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in onion, garlic, and ginger until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add the shiitake: Add Szechuan peppercorn and shiitake mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute or so. 
  3. Pour in the sauce: Stir again to mix well until the vegetables are evenly coated. Cover the pan and let the cauliflower steam over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Every 2 minutes or so, check on the cauliflower’s doneness by piercing it with a fork. 
  4. Garnish and serve. Garnish with green onions and you are ready to serve. 
Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry

How to Serve the Cauliflower Stir Fry

This delicious plant-based dish can be served as a side dish or a main. Here are some inspirations for you to consider. 

Serve as a Side Dish

This spicy cauliflower stir fry pairs well with –

Serve as a Main Dish

Due to the complex flavors of this dish, it can totally be served as a main. All you need to do is to balance it out with some good carbohydrates and protein. 

  • Rice: Simply hot steamed jasmine rice or brown rice will do.
  • Quinoa: Serve it over a bed of cooked quinoa. 
  • Protein: Chickpeas, tofu, beans, or lentils 

StreetSmart Cooking Tips

  • Reserve the water from soaking the dried mushrooms (if using). If you decide to use dried shiitake mushrooms, don’t throw out the soaking water. Use that for your chili numbing sauce! 
  • Prepare the numbing chili sauce before cooking. As mentioned earlier, to work swiftly during a stir-fry process in order to prevent overcooking, it’s highly recommended to prepare the cooking sauce beforehand.
  • Use high heat. It’s a stir-fry recipe—it’s quick, and that’s the point! Your cauliflower will be nicely charred with high heat. 
  • Use cooking oil with a high smoke point. Because you are working with high heat, a high smoke point cooking oil is essential. Smoking is a sign that your oil is breaking down. When oils break down, they can release free radicals that can harm the body as well as chemicals that give food an undesirable burnt or bitter flavor. Olive oil is not going to cut it, and most vegetable oils are too unhealthy. Refined sesame oil or avocado oil are good options for stir fry.
  • Cook cauliflower first. Cauliflower is going to take longer than mushrooms and onions to cook. Therefore, cook the cauliflower first before adding other veggies.
  • Add protein to the dish. To make this dish more fulfilling, consider adding cashews, peanuts, edamame, or ground beef or pork if you are not vegetarian. 

More Cauliflower Recipes You Might Like

If you dig this cauliflower recipe, you might enjoy the following easy recipes as well. 

Last but not least, try this recipe and let me know what you think! Share with me your experience and your own creative variations in the comments below. 

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Spicy Cauliflower with Shiitake in Numbing Chili Sauce

Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry with Shiitake in Numbing Chili Sauce

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  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

Spice up the dinner table with this delicious cauliflower stir fry! Savory shiitake mushrooms, aromatic chili sauce, and fresh cauliflower all come together for a quick and easy meal that will have you and your family coming back for seconds.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Numbing Chili Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste) or less as desired
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Cauliflower Stir Fry:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil such as sesame oil or avocado oil
  • 1 medium head (about 1 1/4 pound) cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets and rinsed
  • 1 cup yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns (numbing peppers) or 1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • Chopped green onions for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the numbing chili sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable stock, Shaoxing wine, tamari, Doubanjiang, and cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. Cook the cauliflower: Heat oil in a large sautépan or wok over high heat. Add the cauliflower florets, spread them out, and let them char a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in onion, garlic, and ginger until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the shiitake: Add Szechuan peppercorn and shiitake mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute or so.
  4. Pour in the sauce: Stir again to mix well until the vegetables are evenly coated. Cover the pan and let the cauliflower steam over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Every 2 minutes or so, check on the cauliflower’s doneness by piercing it with a fork.
  5. Garnish and serve: When the cooking is done, the cauliflower and shiitake will be glazed with the spicy sauce. Garnish with green onions and serve with rice, if you like.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 159
  • Sugar: 6.1g
  • Sodium: 1585.6mg
  • Fat: 22.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.1g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 4.5g
  • Cholesterol: 12.5mg
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About the Author

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of the Complete Sous Vide Cookbook. She believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she aims to make meal prep easier than ever and help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.