Indonesian Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower Recipe

Indonesian Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Indonesian food plays a significant role in the Dutch cuisine. Quite a few Dutch are of Indonesian ancestry and cherish their gourmet’s heritage. Over time many of these dishes moved out of the ethnic corner into Dutch mainstream. Nearly everyone in the Netherlands appreciates nowadays the diversity and flavors of the Indonesian cuisine.

The stars of this dish are a crunchy cauliflower, a favorite vegetable in Indonesia, and the famous Sambal Oelek, a spicy sauce. This recipe has got everything, and best of all it’s ready in no time. Serve with steamed white rice or Chinese noodles.



  • 1 lb cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 Tbsp sliced scallions
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil

Sweet and Spicy Sauce

  • 2 tsp sambal oelek or sriracha to taste
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey, or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chile paste consisting of crushed raw red chiles, red and green peppers, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, vinegar and a pinch each of sugar and salt. A flavorful condiment and ingredient in cooked foods. It tastes like you are cooking with fresh chiles – only better. Sambal Oelek is available in the Asian food section of supermarkets or Asian food stores. One tablespoon is roughly the equivalent of a chopped, small jalapeño. Sambal Oelek aficionados prepare their own of course.


Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons canola oil and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oiled cauliflower florets and cook until browned on all sides and tender. About 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Cauliflower should still have a bite. It will continue cooking when sauce is added later on. Set aside and keep it warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon canola oil to the wok or skillet and heat it over medium high heat. Add red pepper and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until pepper softens a bit. While the vegetables are cooking, mix all the ingredients for the Sambal Oelek sauce. Return the cauliflower to the wok or skillet. Add the Sambal Oelek sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.

Just before serving add scallion, cilantro or parsley. Give it a stir. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve it with white rice.

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