Hey everyone! Last week was a pretty stressful week, because of all the presentations and classwork I had to prepare for. So I took the liberty of using this weekend as time to recuperate from that. Today was a lazy Sunday for me. I basically just cooked and ate and worked out. A pretty great way to spend a weekend, if you ask me 😉 I made a dish that took a little more time to prepare, just because I had the time today. I made Chinese inspired kung pao cauliflower, and added my own little twist to it. Oh, and did I forget to mention this dish is vegan! Yup! So rest easy, my vegan readers, as this is totally fair game for you, without any special modifications.
I was feeling Chinese food (or Chinese inspired food) today. It was a hot day, and the Indian in me was craving something salty and crunchy and basically something different from what I usually cook. So, cauliflower it was! There are honestly so many things you can do with cauliflower – I have seen my parents make at least 4 different dishes in Indian cuisine with cauliflower. And on top of that there is Indo-Chinese cooking, which has its famed Cauliflower Manchurian (it’s just too good!) and a bunch of other recipes that I can’t seem to think of right now. But cauliflower is great because it’s versatile and can be cooked in many ways – steamed, baked, deep-fried, etc. For this recipe, I chose to take the lite route and baked the dish the entire way. I also cooked some long grain jasmine rice. Pro tip: for Asian foods, whatever mechanism you use to cook rice, try to get the rice “just cooked” and fluffy. There are some foods that pair well with more moist rice, but this is not one of those times.
Asian food is very appealing to me, and I think Indians in general because of the bold flavors. Sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. They all complement each other so well and have a distinct flavor of their own. It requires a delicate balance, or else results can be disastrous (I should know!). I am proud to report though, that this attempt was not disastrous. Quite the contrary, I was so pleased with how this turned out that I think I’ll make it more often now. After all, it’s not like it is too unhealthy or anything.
So, make some room and prepare for quite a bit of clean up, because this recipe can make quite the mess if you are not careful.
1 cauliflower head, broken up into bite size pieces
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1.5 cups water, depending on thickness of batter
4-5 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
Handful of ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp cornstarch, as a slurry
Handful of chives, finely chopped, for garnishing
- In a large nonstick pan, saute the garlic and ginger together until fragrant.
- Add a bit of sesame oil to saute and add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until they brown.
- Add the sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and soy sauce and mix well until boiling.
- Add the corn starch and keep mixing.
- When mixture is boiling, turn off heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. You will know the mixture is thick enough if it can coat the back of the spatula.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix flour, baking soda, and water together and whisk together in a large bowl until well combined and no lumps remain.
- Combine cauliflower and coat each piece well.
- Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes. *Pro tip: just get the cauliflower on the baking sheet. Don’t dump everything, including the batter on there, because when you roast it, those areas just get soggy and gross.
- Lay out to cool.
- Once sauce is made, pour it over the roasted cauliflower and coat every piece.
- Return to the oven at 375 degrees for about 7-8 minutes.
- Cool for a few minutes and serve over rice.
I chose to add the shiitake mushrooms here for a couple of reasons. First, I just really love mushrooms, especially shiitake mushrooms in Asian dishes. They have such a wonderful chewy texture. And secondly, speaking of texture, I wanted to create a difference in texture in my dish. The cauliflower roasted so well and was so crunchy, so I wanted to complement that texture with a soft and chewy texture of the shiitake mushroom.
Overall, this vegan dish came out really well, and I would make it again!
Some things to keep in mind: I really need to get better and cleaner at cutting cauliflower. Seriously, it was like pulling teeth and I made such a big mess. There has got to be a better way to do this. If you know of a better way to do it then please tell me in the comments below! Secondly, just go ahead and use more soy sauce. I know it’s high in sodium (yes, even the reduced sodium variety) but if you are going to be making a Chinese inspired dish, then you’re going to want that flavor to really pop, and that won’t happen if you make just enough sauce to barely coat the cauliflower florets. And lastly, make sure you don’t get lazy and just add the cornstarch in the mix, because you will get lumps. Make sure you add it in as a slurry! It really makes a difference.
And now I want to know what you guys think! Do you also love Asian inspired food? And are you going to be making this roasted kung pao cauliflower anytime soon? Let me know in the comments below!
See you soon!
Janani <3 <3