Cauliflower with Pork and Mushrooms


Cauliflower with pork

Cauliflower with pork

A vendor at the Alemany Farmers Market shows off a head of Chinese cauliflower.

A vendor at the Alemany Farmers Market in San Francisco shows off a head of Chinese cauliflower.


Conventional cauliflower is grown under controlled conditions to achieve the tight heads that are commonly seen at supermarkets. A process known as blanching uses the plant’s own leaves to shield the developing heads from over-exposure to light. Chinese cauliflower, on the other hand, is intentionally allowed to spread. Enthusiastic shoppers at farmers markets in the San Francisco Bay Area grab these up whenever they are available. Connoisseurs of the spread head type of cauliflower claim that they have a sweeter flavor. I haven’t actually detected any strong difference in flavor, but the smaller florets do expose more surface area to the sauce that they’re cooked in. For this recipe, you can substitute conventional cauliflower, but cut the florets into smaller pieces. You can also try this recipe with broccoli.

Shimeji mushrooms are just the right size to complement the small cauliflower florets, but feel free to experiment with sliced shiitakes or other fungi such as cloud ears. Also, the ground pork can be substituted with ground turkey. If you’re using conventional tight-head cauliflower, slice the larger florets or cut them into quarters.

Chinese cauliflower

Eager shoppers for Chinese cauliflower at the Stonestown Farmers Market in San Francisco

cauliflower ingredients

Ingredients for Cauliflower with Pork and Mushrooms. Clockwise from upper left: chopped Chinese cauliflower, shimeji mushrooms, scallions.

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Cauliflower with Pork and Mushrooms
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Loose-head Chinese cauliflower is ideal for this recipe; the small florets do a good job soaking up the savory sauce. If conventional cauliflower or broccoli is substituted, be sure to divide the florets into smaller pieces.
  • ½ pound (225 g) trimmed cauliflower florets
  • 1.5 quarts (1.5 liters) water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 ounces (about 100 g) shimeji or sliced shiitake mushrooms (optional)
  • 3-4 ounces (about 100 g) ground pork
  • 2 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water
  1. Cut cauliflower florets into small bite size pieces. If using Chinese cauliflower, florets separated from their stems should be about the right size. If using conventional cauliflower, cut the florets into halves or quarters to get the right size.
  2. Add water and 1 tablespoon salt to a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Drop in the cauliflower and cook until they're just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok or skillet. Add the mushrooms and fry until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt on the mushroom and stir. Set aside.
  4. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok, then add the pork. Break up the pork using a spatula or a fork. Cook until the pork is just done, about 1 minute, then add the oyster sauce, salt, sugar, stock and scallions.
  5. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cooked cauliflower and mushrooms. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes using a spatula to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
  6. Serve with rice.