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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 this veganized version, cauliflower is used in place of chicken — caramelized and simmered in the tangy prickly sauce until tender. Bedded on rice, this dish is as hearty as it is light and flavorful.

My husband Gene LOVES adobo, its that perfect mashup of nostalgia and a delicious easy to make meal. Gene is half Filipino and grew up on his Mom’s traditional chicken adobo. Creating vegan recipes that are culturally significant, is an important component of honoring one’s family and tradition. In our family, we love to experiment with finding the best ways to do so, while still living in a way that causes as little suffering as possible.

Guess what? Now I love adobo too and can’t wait to carry this recipe on to future generations.


Cauliflower Adobo

Nut free, Gluten free , Vegan, Soy free

Prep Time: 30 MINS    Cook Time: 10 MINS  Total Time: 40 MINS

Makes: 4 servings

Level: Easy - Moderate


  • 1 large cauliflower (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)

  • 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 (use Tamari for gluten free)

  • 2 teaspoons raw or light brown sugar

  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 Thai chile, halved lengthwise, or 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, for serving

  • 2 cups white or brown rice


Put 2 cups rice + 4 cups water into a rice cooker. Set and leave to cook while you prepare the adobo. Or prepare rice in a pot on the stovetop.

Trim leaves and woody stalk from the cauliflower, then cut through the root into 8 wedges. Season both sides of each wedge with salt and pepper. Reserve any loose cauliflower pieces.

  1. In a large skillet, heat the canola 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, 3 to 4 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 uncooked side facing down.

  2. Add 1/4 cup water, any loose cauliflower pieces, 2 teaspoons black pepper, rice-wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, bay leaves and Thai chile or red pepper flakes. Cover and let simmer over medium heat until the cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

  3. 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, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Serve the cauliflower over cooked rice with plenty of sauce and a sprinkle (or handful) of scallions.

  5. Enjoy!!

Recipe adapted from NYT’s Recipes.

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