Oh, my love for cauliflower grows leaps and bounds every time I cook with it! There’s none such vegetable so versatile and adaptable to almost any cooking method you want to put to use, or any flavour your want to infuse it with. It has such a mild flavour on it own, it can easily pick up the flavours of the other ingredients you use in the cooking process. Take this dish, for instance! The flavours of the fresh ginger and garlic, and the aroma of the sesame oil, really shine through in this dish.
I must confess, this is basically a General Tso’s Chicken recipe that has been converted to a vegetarian option using cauliflower rather than chicken. I could have named the dish General Tso’s Cauliflower, but I can’t say it. I’m serious… I know how to say it, but whenever I do, it wants to come out of my mouth with a strong pronunciation of the letter T.
In addition to that, I wanted to distance myself from Tso since it really has no merit! The dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, a Qing Dynasty general and statesman, although there is no recorded connection to him. Moreover, descendants of General Tso still living in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish. I digress.
As you can see from the pictures I’ve included, the batter for this fried cauliflower is quite light. The batter is thick enough to provide a crispy coating and to protect the delicate nature of the vegetable itself. If you were to deep fry cauliflower without a coating, you risk overcooking it and it falling to pieces. Oh, and the addition of the sesame seeds to the batter adds such a wonderful texture to the already crunchy coating!
Fried Cauliflower in Garlic and Ginger Sauce
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces, plus sliced onions for garnish
- vegetable or canola oil
In a large mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, the baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, black pepper, 1 1/4 cup of water, and 3/4 cup of flour. Mix together well.
Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and the sesame seeds over the coated cauliflower. Lightly toss to coat. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, bring to a slight bubble, the following ingredients: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, grated ginger, minced garlic, dried chili flakes, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and one cup of water. Stir well.
When the mixture comes to a slight boil, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of water and mix well, add that mixture to the sauce pan. Next, toss in the green onions and stir to combine. Reduce to a simmer and allow to thicken.
In the meantime, heat the vegetable oil in a deep pot to 375 degrees. (You can also use a deep fryer if you have one.)
Carefully place the coated cauliflower florets into the hot oil. Fry each piece until golden brown - about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Once all of the pieces are fried, increase the temperature of the oil to 385 degrees and re-fry the nuggets of cauliflower for another 30-60 seconds. This will provide a deeper colour and a better crunch. This step is completely optional!
Lastly, plate the cauliflower and spoon the thick, hot sauce over top. Garnish with the sliced green onions and a few sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
EDIT: I love it when another blogger replicates or makes their own version of a recipe inspired by one of my recipes. My awesome blogger friend, Whitney, did a take on this recipe with shrimp. You should take a look at it too! Here’s the link: Quick & Easy Spicy Pineapple Shrimp