Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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OK – this dish is a great example of how getting bold in the kitchen can yield unexpected rewards.  For twenty-plus years now – I have been dying to know WTF is in the spicy black pepper sauce at Cha Cha Cha (http://theoriginalchachacha.com/).  It is genuinely spicy with a hint of sweet & is so tar black – it is just brilliant.  I have never had any luck figuring out how to make it – or even a place to buy something like it.  Hold that thought.

Well – last night – inspired by images like this one from Playful Cooking


and the two GIGANTIC heads of cauliflower I got at Super King – look how big:


…I decided to try to make my own version of that Cheeto-orange dish – which is called Gobi Manchurian.  The dish calls for fried cauliflower which I wanted to avoid – so I roasted mine.  I also had a lot of other produce in my fridge that I wanted to use so I just sorta winged it.  I knew when I pulsed my produce to a paste in the food processor that I was going to have a very different animal in the end but it was the dark soy sauce that put it over the brink.  Look at what MY Gobi Manchurian sauce looked like cooked.


Well, hey!  That’s not Kraft mac & cheese orange!  That’s not all buffalo cauliflower fiery red.


I was really disappointed with the inky muck I saw in my pan.  Then I tasted it.  Holy fuck!  It was awesome!  Really spicy & with a sweet kick – it was delicious!  And it tasted VERY close the spicy black pepper sauce at Cha Cha Cha!!   So much so that, when I make it again (and I will!) – I will REALLY puree the bejesus out of the sauce to get it as creamy as possible rather than leave the coarse texture in that remained last night.  The texture wasn’t bad – I just think if it was more like a condiment it would be better.

Still – I wasn’t sure I could pull off appealing photos of such a substance & only took a few half-hearted shots of the sauce & the finished plate before I gave in & just shoveled it all into my face.  Imagine my delight when, this morning, I looked at the photos & found that a few actually came out rather satisfactorily.  So – let me present – my accidental invention of Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice!!


Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice


Cooked rice of your choice

1 large head cauliflower – broken into florets

1/2 onion

2 bell peppers (I used a red & a yellow)

2-3 jalapenos – seeded

6 garlic cloves – minced

1/3 cup fresh ginger – minced

2 bunches scallions (plus extra for garnish) – sliced

olive oil

1 TBS sambal oelek chili paste

1 tsp sriracha (plus extra for garnish)

2 TBS sugar

3 TBS ketchup

3 TBS dark soy sauce (like the sort pictured below – thick & inky)

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Cilantro – as garnish



Cook your rice.


Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Be sure it reaches that temp before roasting the cauliflower.

Drizzle a little olive oil on the cauliflower, toss with your hands and roast for about 30 minutes.


In a food processor – puree the bejesus out of the onion, bell peppers, jalapenos & scallions.


Heat about 2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the garlic & fresh ginger & saute about 2 minutes or so.  Add the rest of the pureed veggies.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat being careful not to burn the puree.


Add the sambal oelek, sugar, ketchup, sriracha, dark soy sauce, white vinegar & sesame oil.  Bring to a boil & immediately lower the flame & simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.


When the cauliflower is done, put a scoop or rice (filling a small bowl or ramekin with rice & inverting onto the plates creates a nice effect) on each plate, ladle some of the spicy black sauce around the rice & arrange cauliflower around the rice.  Drizzle some sriracha on the rice & garnish liberally with scallions and/or cilantro.  Eat it & be surprised how good it is!


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