Recipe: Burnt Cauliflower, Caramelised Onions and Shiitake Mushrooms

Nearly-burnt cauliflower florets are the star in this hearty vegetable dish. 

Words and recipe: Extracted from Where the River Bends by Jane and Jimmy Barnes

Cooking Vegetables, Rule #1: Please. Do. Not. Over. Cook. Cauliflower is no exception; the trick is to get it to caramelise and have an almost burnt look at the edges of the florets, without them turning to mush and falling apart.

This dish is just as good served at room temperature as it is served warm.

Serves 6


1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small to medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 brown onion, sliced
8 shiitake mushrooms, stalk ends removed, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
2 teaspoons mixed black and white sesame seeds
coriander leaves, to garnish


Melt the butter with half the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower, covering the whole base of the pan, and cook until dark brown (almost burnt).

Turn and cook until dark brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the onion and cook for 8–10 minutes, until soft, brown and caramelised. Return the cauliflower to the pan and add the shiitake mushrooms, garlic and shoyu. Stir to combine and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Season with pepper, mix well and scoop into a serving dish. Garnish with sesame seeds and coriander to serve.

Recipe extracted from Where the River Bends by Jane and Jimmy Barnes (HarperCollins, RRP $55)

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NZ Life and Leisure    NZ Lifestyle Block
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