This Lean and Healthy Chinese Cauliflower Salad Celebrates Quintessential Asian Flavours with A New Kid on The Block. The Sweet and Tender Stalks of This New Vegetable Mixed Through with a Clean Protein Is Simply Delicious!
What is Chinese Cauliflower?
To be honest with you, I’m a little confused. And whilst I’d like to think I know a fair bit about vegetables because we consume so much of it, the Chinese cauliflower has got me stumped.
In the few grocers I have been, this vegetable is labelled as Chinese cauliflower. But I have also seen the same vegetable called caulilini. Have you heard of caulilini? Having done some research in a bid to find the right terminology for this vegetable, I have come to my own personal conclusion as to what it’s really called.
I have also seen it called caulini and baby cauliflower.
Caulilini™ is a patented product by Mann™, the vegetable division of Del Monte Fresh Produce in California. They launched this new vegetable in mid-2018 after having field trials for over a year. The caulilini™ was met with great enthusiasm with many chefs loving the new kid on the block.
Mann™ are the same people who created the now heavily consumed broccolini. Whilst this vegetable is a hybrid of the humble gai lan and broccoli, the caulilini™ is a pure cauliflower.
So, my theory is that because they are still relatively new on the market, a proper caulilini™ is one that is supplied by this American producer. Much like you can only call Champagne a Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne.
I reckon that there are now plenty of caulilini™ producers out there, growing their own version of the vegetable but because it doesn’t come from Del Monte Fresh Produce in California, it can’t be called caulilini™. So Chinese cauliflower it is! The same as sparkling wine is to Champagne, Chinese cauliflower is to caulilini™.
And after all that, I believe the 2 vegetables are the same!
How Did I Discover Chinese Cauliflower?
This has got to be one of my new favourite vegetables to stir fry and I will never forget the first time I ever tried it.
I went out on a girls’ night out to the illustrious Flower Drum restaurant. Flower Drum is not only the best Chinese restaurant in Melbourne but was also for many years THE BEST restaurant in Melbourne, full stop. Chinese fine dining at its best with senior waiters in impeccable black suits and white gloves. A place where silver service is still prevalent and expertly executed.
Anyway, we ordered the Chinese cauliflower stir fry of which it was simply fried in garlic. Nothing else. The chefs prepared it to perfection. They cooked it to the point where it just surpassed al dente but far from being overcooked and limp. The stems were crunchy yet tender and it was sweeter than the regular cauliflower. I have yet to be able to replicate that faultlessness at home but I’ve come pretty close!
I remember thinking how such a simple dish could have such a great impact.
Why I Love Chinese Cauliflower Salad with Shredded Chicken
I created this salad recipe for 2 reasons. Firstly, because I absolutely love this Chinese cauliflower vegetable and because Phenie wanted more chicken salad recipes. So, I thought I’d take advantage of the Chinese cauliflower being in season and created this healthy Asian chicken salad.
Be sure to also check out our other chicken recipes: Gochujang Chicken Salad with Noodles and Tofu and Gluten Free Pasta Salad with Tarragon Mustard Chicken
The inspiration of using Chinese cooking wine and ginger is something we have done for a very long time. It’s a marriage made in heaven. And after being on holiday again and eating gluttonously, I needed something lean and healthy. Love how my everyday culinary desires help to dictate my creations!
The outcome was stupendous!
The only problem was I ate this Chinese cauliflower vegetable all day and by the end of dinner I was in so much pain! My tummy felt like it was cramping for hours. I think I just worked out I don’t have a huge intolerance for the cruciferous family of vegetables! LOL!
How to Make Chinese Cauliflower Salad with Shredded Chicken
How to Cook the Chicken Tenderloins
For this recipe, I want to cook the lean chicken tenderloin strips in quintessential Chinese ingredients.
In a small saucepan on medium to high heat, bring 2 cups of chicken broth to the boil. Then, add 3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine and 4 slices of ginger into the broth. The ginger adds a little warmth and zing to the broth and if you love ginger as much as we do, learn more about what other ingredients goes with ginger for your next salad creation.
Once it starts to boil, add the chicken tenderloin strips and boil for 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Shred the chicken by pulling the flesh apart with your fingers. Set aside.
With the leftover broth, I used it to cook some rice. I poured the broth, including the ginger, into the rice cooker and topped it up with water. Trust me, it is seriously so delicious! Chicken flavoured rice is so yum.
How to Stir Fry the Chinese Cauliflower
Cut the Chinese cauliflower into small florets.
On medium to high heat, add ½ tbsp of avocado oil into a wok. Once that is hot, add 1 chopped garlic clove. Fry for 45 seconds.
Add the Chinese cauliflower followed by ¼ cup of water into the wok. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add another ¼ cup of water and stir fry for another 2 minutes. If all the water continues to dry up, add another ¼ cup and fry for another 2 minutes.
Once that is cooked, remove the cooked Chinese cauliflower with a pair of tongs. Do not scoop it out or pour it out as we don’t want the garlic or the sauce for the salad.
How to Prepare the Rest of The Salad
Cut a handful of purple coral lettuce thinly.
Cut the chives about 3 cm in length to yield ½ cup.
How to Prepare the Dressing
Peel the ginger and grate enough to yield 1 ½ tsp.
How to Assemble the Salad
This is a simple one. No layering involved!
Add all the ingredients of the salad into a large mixing bowl.
Pour the dressing on the salad and toss until well combined.
On a large serving plate, place the mixed salad in a heap and serve immediately.
Caulilini, Chinese cauliflower or whatever you wish to call it, just do yourself a favour and go and get some. You’ll never turn back. Mix it through with lean shredded chicken and you’ll have yourself a meal on its own, a great lunch to pack for work or a great side to have at dinner.
More Cauliflower Salad Recipes:
Chinese Cauliflower Salad with Shredded Chicken
- 4 chicken tenderloin
- 1 Chinese cauliflower
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 handful purple coral lettuce
- 4 slices ginger
- 2 cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup water, divided
- ½ cup chives, chopped
- 3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- ½ tbsp avocado oil
- 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp plum sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ ginger, grated
- In a small saucepan on medium to high heat, bring 2 cups of chicken broth to the boil. Add 3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine and 4 slices of ginger into the broth. Once it starts to boil, add the chicken tenderloin strips and boil for 10 minutes.Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Shred the chicken by pulling the flesh apart with your fingers. Set aside.
- Cut the Chinese cauliflower into small florets. On medium to high heat, add ½ tbsp of avocado oil into a wok. Once that is hot, add 1 chopped garlic clove. Fry for 45 seconds.Add the Chinese cauliflower followed by ¼ cup of water into the wok. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add another ¼ cup of water and stir fry for another 2 minutes. If all the water continues to dry up, add another ¼ cup and fry for another 2 minutes. Once that is cooked, remove the cooked Chinese cauliflower with a pair of tongs. Do not scoop it out or pour it out as we don’t want the garlic or the sauce for the salad.
- Cut a handful of purple coral lettuce thinly.
- Cut the chives about 3 cm in length to yield ½ cup.
- Peel the ginger and grate enough to yield 1 ½ tsp.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, plum sauce and grated ginger until well combined.
- Add all the ingredients of the salad into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the dressing on the salad and toss until well combined.
- On a large serving plate, place the mixed salad in a heap.
- Serve immediately.
- You can use any cut of chicken for this recipe. Tenderloin strips were chosen as it is leaner and it is easier to shred. The breast is also easy to shred.
- If you’re unable to source Chinese cauliflower, regular cauliflower is good to use. You can even use broccolini or broccoli if you prefer.
- If you’re shopping in the Asian grocery store for chives, ensure you don’t buy the garlic chives by mistake as it is simply too strong a flavour when eaten raw.
- If you don’t have a wok, a large fry pan will do. Ensure it has a bit of depth though as it will make the stir-frying process less messy.
- You can find Chinese cooking wine easily in any Asian grocer.