(Note: this post was originally published on March 26, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Cauliflower is Bar Food!
Welcome to post #3 in my "Cauliflower is Bar Food" series, during which I'm reinventing classic bar fare using one of my favorite veggies! So far I've done Margarita Cauliflower and Cauliflower Poutine. Up for today: Furikake Cauliflower!
Many of you are probably wondering what the heck furikake is. If you haven't experienced this Japanese seasoning blend yet, be prepared to fall in love! Furikake is a mixture of dried seaweed and sesame seeds. It's savory, salty, nutty, and indescribably addictive. Note that, although some furikake blends contain dried fish, this one is totally plant-based and free of weird additives (e.g. MSG). It's just dried seaweed, sesame seeds, and salt. Simple, but perfect. Some blends also include sugar, but I prefer to keep mine on the savory side.
My first exposure to furikake was sitting at one of my favorite bars: The Bistro in Kilauea, Hawaii, on the island of Kaua'i. They make the most amazing furikake fries, and Dave and I have returned repeatedly to get them (or, let's be honest, sometimes two orders... alongside a couple Mai Tais...).
Flavor-Packed (But Easy)
Furikake is the perfect bar food because of its deep savory notes. Nothing is better alongside some cocktails! Reinventing it with roasted cauliflower instead of fries really lightens things up, without sacrificing any flavor. In fact, I'd argue that the gorgeous, browned cauliflower is actually more flavorful than potatoes.
And oh how I love this dipping sauce! While it definitely isn't traditional, it's super creamy and indulgent. The base of the sauce is avocado, but it becomes exciting with ginger and lime. Every bar nibble needs a creamy, indulgent sauce, right?? While definitely a typical pairing with furikake, the dipping sauce is (in my opinion!) a very important component of this dish.
This nibble comes together in a snap. Just roast a bunch of cauliflower, put together the seasoning and dipping sauce while the cauliflower roasts, toss the roasted cauliflower in a dash of sesame oil, then assemble. It's easy enough for a quick happy hour, yet is sure to please a crowd, and you can double or triple the recipe as needed.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Cauliflower. I've based this recipe on two heads, which (in our house!) is a meal for two people or robust snacks for four. You can easily halve or double the recipe as needed.
Oil of choice. For roasting.
Salt and pepper
Toasted sesame oil. If you don't have this in your pantry, I recommend it so highly. It's a super flavor powerhouse.
Seaweed. I've done this a couple ways and both work great. You can either use nori (i.e. the big seaweed sheets for sushi) or some of those new, trendy seaweed snacks. If the latter, make sure you get seaweed snacks that are unflavored.
Fleur de sel. Or other flaky, flavorful sea salt. The salt is really key here, so use something special!
Fresh ginger root
Honey. Or use agave for a vegan version.
One final thought. We always pair furikake with Mai Tais, and it's a perfect match. Furikake is Japanese, Mai Tais are Pacific (the exact origin is debated, but may be on Kaua'i or Tahiti??), and the cuisine of the more southern Hawaiian islands is heavily Japanese-influenced. This dish really excels alongside a cocktail of the Tiki persuasion.
Happy snacking! Cauliflower is bar food!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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The ultimate finger food! Cauliflower gets roasted to perfection and then topped with homemade furikake seasoning, which is a delightful Japanese condiment featuring seaweed and sesame seeds. Satisfying salty perfection!
Four sheets of nori, or a package of seaweed snacks
4 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp fleur de sel or other flaky, flavorful sea salt
For the Dipping Sauce
Juice of a lime
Inch or two of ginger root
1 tsp honey or agave
Preheat the oven to 425 and lightly oil a large sheet tray.
Cut the cauliflower heads into florets. For the bigger florets, cut them in halves or thirds for even cooking.
Lay the cauliflower florets on the sheet tray in a single layer; they won't brown if they're overlapping.
Roast for about 30-45 minutes until tender and browned.
While the cauliflower is roasting, cut the seaweed into very small pieces. Keep chopping at a big pile of it until the seaweed is as small as you can get it. This will be much easier if you keep your knife and cutting board completely dry, since the seaweed will be brittle.
Place the seaweed in a small bowl and add the sesame seeds and salt. Give it all a good toss.
Also while the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the sauce. Grate the ginger on a microplane, then combine all of the sauce ingredients in a blender or small food processor. Blend until you have a luscious, smooth consistency.
Once the cauliflower is done roasting, remove the sheet tray from the oven and drizzle it very lightly with sesame oil. Give it a toss to make sure the florets are evenly coated.
Take HALF of the furikake seasoning and toss it with the cauliflower.
Put the cauliflower on a serving platter, set your dipping sauce on the side, and sprinkle both with the remaining furikake seasoning.