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Vegetarian Cauliflower Adobo

Chicken Adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, is made by braising chicken in a salty, sour and sweet mixture of mostly soy sauce and vinegar. In our vegetarian adobo, we use cauliflower rather than chicken. The cauliflower is caramelised on one side then simmered in the pungent but not prickly sauce until toothsome yet tender. The simmer mellows the vinegar and soy sauce into a sauce interlaced with pepper, garlic and something herbal but not immediately traceable — that’s the bay leaves. Serve the cauliflower and sauce over rice or another grain with something green on the side.


1 large cauliflower

 Kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more as needed

3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more as needed

½ cup rice wine vinegar

5 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons raw or light brown sugar

6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

3 bay leaves

1 chilli, halved lengthwise

3 scallions, thinly sliced, for serving



Trim leaves and woody stalk from the cauliflower, then cut through the root into eight wedges. Season both sides of each wedge with salt and pepper. Reserve any loose cauliflower pieces.

In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place one layer of the wedges in the skillet cut-side down and cook without moving them until well browned on one side, three to four minutes. Transfer to a plate and continue until all the cauliflower is seared, adding more oil as needed. Return all the cauliflower to the pan with the uncooked side facing down.

Add ¼ cup water, any loose cauliflower pieces, 2 teaspoons black pepper, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, bay leaves and chilli. Cover and let simmer over medium heat until the cauliflower is crisp-tender, about five minutes.

Uncover, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook, basting the cauliflower occasionally with the sauce until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, eight to ten minutes.

Serve the cauliflower with plenty of sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

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