For people trying to follow a low-carb diet in Japan, one big issue is the prevalence of rice. Even if people don’t eat rice at every meal, it’s still a major staple. What’s more, the flavor of plain rice itself is highly prized, and telling most people they can’t have rice anymore makes the diet too much of a sacrifice.
The best solution for this dilemma is to use lower-carb rice alternatives in dishes where the flavor of the rice is not the star. Any kind of donburi (rice bowl) is a good candidate, as is stew or curry. With curry, it’s the mouthfeel of what’s below the curry that’s key. Reserve the real rice for dishes where it really matters, as a treat.
This dish is actually a curry-flavored version of māpō dōfu, since regular Japanese curry, which is based on a flour roux, is quite high in carbohydrates on its own. I’ve cut down the carbs even further by using green onions instead of regular ones, and leaving out relatively high-carb vegetables like carrots and potatoes. The thickening is provided by a small amount of starch.
The trick to cauliflower rice is to cook it until it’s quite tender, but not mushy, which will help it best resemble rice when mixed with a well-flavored sauce.
Prep: 20 mins.; cook: 25 mins.
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 piece (about 1.5-centimeters long) ginger root
• 2 medium green onions or leeks, such as kujō negi
• 2 small eggplants
• 1 large red pepper
• 1 medium tomato
• 300 grams frozen cauliflower rice
• 2 teaspoons Chinese chicken stock granules
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 150 grams ground chicken
• 1 300-gram block silken tofu, cut into cubes
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• ½ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
• 200 milliliters water
• 1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch) or cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel and mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. Chop the green onions into small rounds. Cut the eggplant and red pepper into a 1-centimeter dice. Peel the tomato by cutting a shallow “x” in the skin, dunking it into boiling water for 30 seconds then shocking it in a bowl of ice water, then dice.
2. Cook the frozen cauliflower rice in salted boiling water until tender. Mix in 1 teaspoon of the chicken stock granules.
3. Heat up ½ tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and eggplant. Stir-fry until the eggplant is lightly browned, then add the ground chicken and pepper. Continue stir-frying until the meat has changed color, then add the green onion, reserving a little to use as garnish at the end.
4. Push the contents of the frying pan to one side to clear a space in the pan and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil, the curry powder and optional chili powder. Stir until fragrant.
5. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of chicken stock granules, tomato and water. Bring to a boil, simmer for five minutes and stir in the cubed tofu (don’t worry if they fall apart a bit). Drizzle in the starch-water to thicken the sauce and mix carefully. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, but go light on the salt, since the cauliflower rice is also seasoned.
6. Serve over the cauliflower rice, sprinkled with the reserved green onion.
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