Dry Pot Cauliflower (干锅菜花)

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Chinese dry pot cauliflower features crispy cauliflower bites stir fried with bacon and chili peppers in an aromatic savory sauce. It is super easy and fast to put together, and it’s addictively tasty! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Dry pot cauliflower close up

Dry pot cauliflower, or Gan Guo Cai Hua, is a classic dish from Sichuan cuisine that I love. It’s one of those dishes we order every time we visit a Sichuan restaurant in the city. 

The dish uses bacon, ginger, garlic and scallion to infuse the oil. The cauliflower is then stir fried in the super aromatic oil along with a few simple spices to create a rich flavor. When you bite into a piece of crispy cauliflower and salty bacon, you’ll be hooked immediately and won’t be able to stop eating!

What is dry pot cauliflower

The name of the dish “dry pot cauliflower” comes from the presentation of the dish and its cooking method. Like Sichuan Mala Dry Pot, dry pot cauliflower is a stir fry cooked in a wok. Traditionally, the dish is served in a mini wok over a small flame. Unlike many takeout style dishes, this one does not use a glossy sauce to cover up the vegetable. Instead, a lot of aromatics, chicken broth and a splash of soy sauce is used to add flavor.  

The cauliflower is quite al dente when it’s served. But when the dish sits longer, the cauliflower starts to soften and further absorb the flavor from the sauce. It’s so good!

Chinese cauliflower vs. regular cauliflower

Chinese cauliflower, or sometimes called sprouted cauliflower, is the default ingredient for this dish. Compared to regular cauliflower, Chinese cauliflower has a longer stem, less dense florets, and a chewier texture. It is similar to how broccolini is, compared to broccoli. 

You can find Chinese cauliflower at Chinese grocery stores and at big Asian markets like H Mart or Ranch 99. In the summer, you might be able to find this variety at your local farmer’s market. And sometimes I even see it at Trader Joe’s (the bagged cut up kind).

Chinese cauliflower is perfect for stir frying, because it holds its shape well and does not fall apart easily. However, if you have trouble finding it, it’s totally OK to make this dish with regular cauliflower. I tried it and the result was just as delicious. 

Chinese cauliflower, sprouted cauliflower
Homemade dry pot cauliflower in a pan

Dry pot cauliflower ingredients

Traditionally, dry pot cauliflower is made with sliced pork belly. But since bacon is much easier to find, and in my opinion makes this dish even better, I chose to use bacon instead.

The rest of the ingredients are quite common. But if you happen to have Sichuan peppercorns on hand, I highly recommend adding some to the dish. Sichuan peppercorn is not always used in dry pot cauliflower, but it enhances the flavor so well and I love it a lot. 

Mise en place

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have:

  • Mixed sauce
  • Sliced bacon
  • Chopped aromatics and dried pepper 
  • Fresh pepper
  • Cauliflower florets
Ingredients for making dry pot cauliflower
Gan Guo Cai Hua

What pan to use

I have to admit that this dish is best cooked in a wok, if you have one. The cauliflower takes up a bit of pan space and can be difficult to stir if using a flat pan. Plus, some smoky wok hei will enhance the dish as well. Like I mentioned in my Wok vs. Skillet post, wok cooking has a lot more benefits when it comes to simple dishes like this. 

That said, I used my large carbon steel pan and loved the result. You can also use other types of pans such as nonstick. 

Homemade gan guo cai hua in a pan

How to cook dry pot cauliflower

Cooking dry pot cauliflower is easy and straightforward:

  1. Cook the bacon until golden and crispy.
  2. Saute the aromatics
  3. Stir fry the cauliflower 
  4. Cover up the pan to steam the cauliflower so it cooks through quickly
  5. Mix in the pepper and cooked bacon

And that’s it!

P.S. I prefer to take out the bacon because I like to crisp it up perfectly and add it back at the end so it stays crispy. If you’re feeling lazy, it’s totally OK to leave it in the pan while cooking the rest of the ingredients.

Dry pot cauliflower cooking step-by-step

How to dry pot cauliflower

This cauliflower with bacon bits is so flavorful that I can finish a whole pot in one sitting. It makes a perfect side dish or a part of a multi-dish meal. It freezes and reheats well, so you can use it for meal prep too.

Here are some dishes for a multi-course Sichuan dinner

Dry Pot Cauliflower (干锅菜花)
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Chinese dry pot cauliflower features crispy cauliflower bites stir fried with bacon and chili peppers in an aromatic savory sauce. It is super easy and fast to put together, and it’s addictively tasty! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Dry Pot Cauliflower (干锅菜花)

Chinese dry pot cauliflower features crispy cauliflower bites stir fried with bacon and chili peppers in an aromatic savory sauce. It is super easy and fast to put together, and it’s addictively tasty! {Gluten-Free Adaptable} To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari to replace soy sauce.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head (1 lb / 450 g) Chinese cauliflower , cut into bite-size florets
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 4 slices bacon , cut to bite-size pieces
  • 4 Chinese dried chili peppers , cut in half
  • 2 green onions , cut into 2” (5 cm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 1 long red Asian pepper (or Thai bird eye chile, jalapeno, or anaheim pepper) , sliced

Sauce

Instructions

  • Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon turns golden. Transfer the bacon to a plate and leave the oil in the pan.
  • Add the dried chili peppers, green onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few times to release fragrance.
  • Add the cauliflower. Turn to medium-high heat. Stir and cook for 1 minute to coat the cauliflower evenly with oil.
  • Pour in the sauce. Keep stirring to mix everything together, 1 minute or so. Cook covered for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the cauliflower just starts to soften. Add the pepper and the cooked bacon back, stir to mix everything together and cook until the sauce is mostly absorbed, 1 minute or so. Carefully taste the cauliflower. Cook a bit longer and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, if needed.
  • Transfer everything to a big plate. Serve hot as a side or main dish.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 184kcal, Carbohydrates: 10.3g, Protein: 10.6g, Fat: 11.7g, Saturated Fat: 3.3g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Sodium: 838mg, Potassium: 525mg, Fiber: 3.3g, Sugar: 4.1g, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg
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