Spicy, Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy of Denise M. Caurdy- O' Connor, Executive Chef, Knollwood Country Club, West Bloomfield, Mich.
- cauliflower - 1 head
- corn starch - 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp.
- bread crumbs - 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.
- water - 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.
- salt - 1/4 tsp.
- soy sauce - 2 tsp.
- oil - 1 tsp.
- sesame oil - 1/4 tsp., toasted
- Chinese red chiles - 10
- Sichuan peppercorn - 1/2 tsp.
- peanuts - 3 Tbsp., choppped
- ginger - 1 slice, minced
- garlic cloves - 5, minced
- scallions - 3 stalks
- Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp.
- soy sauce - 2 1/2 Tbsp.
- rice vinegar - 2 Tbsp.
- Chinese rice wine - 1 tsp.
- sugar - 1 Tbsp.
- Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix the corn starch, bread crumbs, and the rest of the ingredients to make a batter (let the batter sit for 10 seconds to thicken if it isn't thick).
- The cornstarch continues to thicken the batter, so as soon as it is a good, not-too-watery consistency, start dipping the cauliflower in the batter. Tap to drop excess, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. (If batter thickens too much while working, add a teaspoon or more water and mix in and continue).
- Bake for 30 minutes or longer until the florets are cooked through. Check with a toothpick/knife.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red chiles and peppercorns and cook until the red chilies are fragrant, but not overly brown.
- Note: For more heat, break some of the chilies into hal and add to the skillet.
- Add the nuts and mix for a few seconds. Add the ginger and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until the garlic is golden—4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the scallions, and 2 to 3 Tbsp. of finely chopped green peppers or other veggies if using, and mix in. Increase heat to medium. Cook for a minute.
- Mix the sauce ingrediennts in a bowl and add to the skillet. Continue to cook until the sauce cokes to a boil and thickens slightly (two minutes). Carefully taste and adjust salt, sweet and spice.
- Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, drizzle the sauce over each floret, and serve.
- Note: If storing, store the baked cauliflower and sauce seperately. Heat the sauce and pour over florets. To serve with rice/cooked grains, double the sauce mix and bring to a boil to thicken, toss in the cauliflower, and serve immediately over rice.
Chef's Note: These cripsy kung pao cauliflower bites are jsut that: cropy, spicy, juicy, hot and super fun. Bake the cauliflower, make the jung pao sauce. Arrange the cauliflower in one layer in a serving plate/bowl. Drizzle the sauce before serving.