Steinbeck’s roasted cauliflower topped with ‘exceptional’ sauce

Q: If you haven’t been to Steinbeck’s in Oakhurst Village, you are missing some really good food. Their Double Double Burger was on the cover of Atlanta magazine. There are many great items on the menu but my favorite is the Roasted Cauliflower. It is served over rice with an exceptionally addictive nuoc cham sauce. It doesn’t sound like much but believe me, it is unforgettable. I have tried to replicate the sauce at home but have been unsuccessful. I would really love it if you could obtain the recipe. Many thanks. — Judith Berger, Atlanta

A: Steinbeck’s chef Andy Gonzales has worked in many top Atlanta restaurants — Bluepointe, Nava and Spice Market to name a few — and he brings a wide variety of culinary influences to his cooking. This recipe quickly caramelizes the cauliflower in a skillet, then softens it in the oven. To duplicate his nuoc cham sauce, he specifies using Three Crabs fish sauce and unseasoned Marukan rice vinegar. Extra nuoc cham will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week and is delicious over spring rolls, rice or other roasted vegetables.

Steinbeck’s Roasted Cauliflower

For nuoc cham:

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons warm water

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 minced shallot

1/4 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 minced clove garlic

1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for browning cauliflower

For cauliflower:

1/4 head cauliflower, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1/4 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup Thai basil

1 cup warm cooked rice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make nuoc cham: In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, shallot, jalapeno and garlic. Whisk in oil. Set aside.

In a large skillet, add enough oil to make a thin layer on the bottom. Heat pan over high heat until lightly smoking and add slices of cauliflower just to cover the bottom of the pan. Brown the cauliflower slices then turn and brown the other side. Move the browned batches to a sheet pan and continue until all cauliflower is browned. Put cauliflower in the oven and bake until tender. Remove cauliflower from oven, toss with 2 tablespoons reserved nuoc cham, mint and basil and serve over rice. Serves: 2

Per serving: 208 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 4 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated), trace cholesterol, 21 milligrams sodium.

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