Healthy Filipino Recipes: Garlic Fried Cauliflower “Rice” (Sinangag) with Chicken Tocino aka Tocilog
April 22, 2013 by Jen Balisi
In case you couldn’t tell based on previous posts, I am Filipino and loooove Filipino food. It’s what I grew up on, and the marinated meats and sweet and savory flavor combos never fail to make me one happy camper. That said, the typically fatty meats, greasy sauces, and white rice don’t exactly make for anything remotely close to healthy, which is why I’m making it my mission to try to recreate the dishes I love into healthier, minimal-guilt versions. First up: Garlic fried rice, or siningag, a true staple of Filipino cuisine. You’ll find it as a side on most menus and it’s one of the 3 necessities to making a Filipino standby, tapsilog, and any other -silog dish [Filipino/Tagalog lesson of the day: marinated dried beef (tapa) + fried rice (sinangag) + egg (itlog) = tap-si-log. Genius naming right here].
As delicious as garlic fried rice is, it’s also a carbo-loaded, potential diet killer especially since it’s tough to stop eating it (seriously, who doesn’t love fried rice?). Steamed white rice, plain and boring with nothing added, already comes in at 200 calories and 45 g of carbs per 1 cup serving – add canola oil and salt and you’re looking at a minimum of 25 minutes on the treadmill, and that’s only if you control yourself and only eat 1 serving. That said, Pinterest and recommendations from friends clued me into a clever rice substitute that is even paleo diet-friendly: cauliflower fried rice. The white, largely flavorless, nutrient-loaded, super-low-carb, 25-calories-per-cup vegetable makes a great white rice substitute with zero guilt, for which you can find the recipe at the end of this post. When fried in extra virgin olive oil and garlic and paired with chicken tocino and a fried egg, you have a healthy version of tocilog, a Filipino classic.
But now, the hard part: how exactly does one turn those cauliflower florets into tiny rice-like grains? There are 3 methods, each of which varies in difficulty, time, and effort.
Method #1: Chop the cauliflower by hand – This is the method I used the first time I made cauliflower fried rice, mostly because I didn’t figure out Method #2 yet and I don’t own the appliance you need in Method #3. As you can imagine, this is the most difficult and inconvenient method. It takes forever (I did it while watching Games of Thrones and finished well past halfway through the hour-long episode, but then again, I’m slow at chopping since I’m still afraid of chopping my fingers off, so take this estimate with a grain of salt). Given the manual labor though, this method does end up providing the most extra calorie burn~
Method #2: Grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater – This method still takes a decent amount of time and effort (about 10-15 minutes for an entire head of cauliflower) and you need to be careful enough not to grate off your fingertips, but it’s still an easier prep method than chopping by hand. Just make sure you only hold the stalk and start grating from the perimeter of the floret and work your way to the middle/top- from experience, it’s a bit easier to keep a hold of.
Method #3: Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor – Easiest method, as long as you have a food processor (or Magic Bullet for you infomercial buffs). Just make sure you don’t pulse it too much or you’ll end up with baby food. Sadness.
So now that you have your cauliflower “rice,” you can use it to make good old tocilog, my personal favorite Filipino breakfast option (and yes, the fried egg makes it count as breakfast). The garlic cauliflower fried rice comes in at a mere 140 calories per cup, primarily just from the extra virgin olive oil which provides those healthy monosaturated fats. For the tocino, I used skinless chicken breast over the usual fatty pork to provide some lean protein, though using a prepared marinade mix resulted in a dish that’s still quite high in sodium (as such, I’m planning on experimenting to make a lower sodium version – TBD!). In terms of cooking chicken tocino, there’s no need for me to include a recipe here: just pick up Mama Sita’s tocino marinade mix and follow the directions on the back of the package 🙂
Top the garlic fried cauliflower rice and chicken tocino with a fried egg to make tocilog and you’re in for a tasty, perfectly sweet and savory meal that’s low-carb and high protein! But first, that recipe I promised:
A low-carb, paleo-friendly version of Filipino garlic fried rice that uses grated cauliflower as a rice substitute
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped/grated into rice-like chunks
- 5 cloves of minced, fresh garlic (or more! if you love garlic)
- 1-2 eggs (depending on how much you like eggs)
- 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce (patis) - you can use salt to taste if you do not have fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- garlic powder (optional, if you really love garlic - like me!)
- Coat a non-stick skillet or wok with 1 tbsp of olive oil and put on med-high heat
- Once pan is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring continuously, until every piece is brown - remove from the pan and set aside
- Add another tbsp of olive oil to pan and turn heat to high
- Add grated cauliflower to pan and spread out so it covers the bottom of the pan, let cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on if you want it to be crispier. Stir all of the cauliflower and repeat until all of the cauliflower starts to turn more yellow/golden
- Push all of the cauliflower to one side and crack the egg(s) into the empty space - let stand until edges start to brown and then scramble the eggs in the pan, breaking into small chunks and then mixing into the fried cauliflower
- Drip the fish sauce throughout the mixture and continue to stir to ensure it spreads evenly
- Plate the finished cauliflower fried rice and top with the browned garlic - serve with chicken tocino and a fried egg for Filipino tocilog or any other protein and enjoy!