Cauliflower Nasi Goreng – Low Carb

This cauliflower nasi goreng – low carb and tasty – might well earn a place on your regular meal rotation. It’s just so special! Nasi goreng is a delicious dish from Indonesia, which I’ve enjoyed plenty of times since moving to the Netherlands, since the Dutch are very much into Indonesian foods.

Although this is a rice-based dish and you might think no way can that be low carb, swap the rice for cauliflower and it will be! Also, because this is a spicy dish (a dish with spices, not necessary ‘hot’ if you don’t want it to be) you won’t taste the cauliflower.

What is Nasi Gorgeng?

The name ‘nasi goreng’ means fried rice in Malay and Indonesian, and the term can refer to pre-cooked rice with a little cooking fat and kecap manis, which is a sweet soy sauce. Shallot, tamarind, chili and garlic are typical ingredients, along with egg, shrimp and/or chicken. Sometimes salted dried fish are used instead of the other proteins.

This recipe is known as Indonesian although it is also popular in Malaysia, the Netherlands and Singapore. Nasi goreng can be enjoyed everywhere from roadside stands in Indonesia to Jakarta buffet tables or fine restaurants. This is known as the national dish of Indonesia, although I’m not sure what the locals would make of this low carb cauliflower nasi goreng variation. This dish was developed as a way to avoid wasting cooked rice, since frying can stop dangerous microbes propagating especially before refrigeration was commonplace like it is today.

Although this dish is sometimes compared to Chinese style fried rice, it is different because of the kecap manis (a thick, sweet type of soy sauce) in there. Fried onions and/or fried shallots are sometimes served with nasi goreng to give it a distinctive crunch. Pickles might be offered since they contrast well with the oil and spices, and shrimp crackers are also god with it. Don’t forget the sambal (chili sauce) to give plenty of heat.

In Indonesia nasi goreng is usually made by frying leftover rice with the previous day’s cooked meat or fish, adding some eggs and vegetables to the mix. The basic ingredients will be rice, spices, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, ketchup, sambal or soy sauce, and kecap manis.

Dutch Nasi Goreng

Nasi goreng is well-loved in the Netherlands because of colonial ties with Indonesia, and Indonesian migrants going back a few generations sell Indonesian food in takeouts and restaurants. It’s not the same, of course, and I’m saying that as someone who’s traveled around Indonesia. Probably because the spices aren’t so fresh here, I don’t know – I feel the same way about Indian food outside India.

However, it’s possible to make a great version of nasi goreng, and we are using cauliflower here to get the carbs as low as possible! We are also using tamari or soy sauce and sugar-free honey to get a similar flavor to kecap manis.

Read on, make any tweaks you want, and enjoy this wonderful low carb cauliflower nasi goreng recipe. The exact calorie/carb count depends on the brands you use and the amounts, so it’s perhaps better to work that out yourself.

Cauliflower Nasi Goreng - Low Carb
This low carb take on traditional nasi goreng uses cauliflower instead of rice, and boasts egg, vegetables, meat, seafood and authentic Indonesian spices to offer a wonderful, aromatic flavor.
Cuisine: Indonesian
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 2
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 8 chopped peeled medium shrimp
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 finely diced chicken thigh filets
  • ½ peeled, sliced white onion
  • 1 small cauliflower, in florets
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 peeled, diced carrot
  • 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (Indonesian chili sauce)
  • ½ tablespoon Blackberry Patch Sugar Free Honey Flavored Syrup or sweetener to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • Cilantro (fresh coriander) for garnish
For the Low Carb Satay Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sugar-free peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sugar free 'honey' (I like Blackberry Patch Sugar Free Honey Flavored Syrup)
Optional Ingredients, to Serve
  • Mixed chopped pickles
  • Crispy fried shallots
  • Shrimp crackers (not low carb but so good!)
  • Tomato wedges
  • Finely sliced cucumber
  1. 'Rice' the cauliflower in a food processor until it's rice texture.
  2. If you don't have a food processor, use the large holes on a cheese grater.
  3. Heat a wok over a high heat and add a teaspoon of oil.
  4. Add the shrimp, seasoned with some salt, and stir fry for 1½ half minutes.
  5. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Next add the chicken and stir fry over a high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Transfer to the plate with the shrimp.
  8. Add another teaspoon of oil, keeping the heat quite high.
  9. Stir fry the onion for 2 minutes.
  10. Add the cauliflower, garlic, carrot, sambal, honey substitute or sweetener, tamari or soy sauce, and fish sauce .
  11. Add sesame oil too if liked.
  12. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds then the cooked shrimp and chicken back.
  13. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes.
  14. Heat a little oil in another pan and fry 2 eggs until the whites are firm but the yolks are still soft.
  15. Combine the ingredients to make satay sauce (this is optional but yummy).
  16. Serve the nasi goreng topped with the eggs and some cilantro.
  17. Add the satay sauce, pickles, shallots, shrimp crackers tomato, and/or cucumber if using.

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