Spicy Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower


For the Baked Crispy Cauliflower
¼ cup + 1 tbsp corn starch or other starch
¼ cup + 2 tbsp bread crumbs (use gluten-free crumbs to make gf)
¼ cup + 1 tbsp or more water
½ tsp cayenne ( use a ⅓ tsp for less heat)
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp roasted sesame oil
1 tsp oil
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into florets

For the Kung Pao sauce:
1 tsp oil
8 to 10 dried red chilies (chinese red chilies, or arbol or cayenne, or use california red for less heat)
½ tsp coarsely crushed sichuan peppercorns (or use a mix of coarsely crushed black pepper and red pepper flakes)
2 to 3 tbsp chopped cashews or peanuts
4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch ginger minced
2 tbsp scallions, chopped

Sauce mix
2.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce/tamari (use certified gluten-free sauce to make gf)
1.5 to 2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chinese rice wine (optional)
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup + 2 tbsp water (use ½ cup for more sauce)
1 tsp cornstarch

  1. Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the cornstarch breadcrumbs, 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 the batter thickens too much while working, add a tsp or more water and mix in and continue.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes or longer until the florets are cooked through. Check with a toothpick/knife
  3. Meanwhile make the sauce. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the red chilies and peppercorns and cook until the red chilies are fragrant, but not overly brown, or someone starts sneezing. (For more heat, break some of the chilies into half and add to the skillet.)
  4. Add the nuts and mix for a few seconds. Add the ginger, garlic, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until the garlic is golden. 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add in the scallions, and 2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped green peppers or other veggies if using and mix in. Increase heat to medium. Cook for a minute.
  6. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl and add to the skillet. Continue to cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens slightly. 2 mins. Carefully taste and adjust salt, sweet and spice. If the sauce is not hot enough, break a few of the chilies open or add in red pepper flakes to taste and mix in.
  7. Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, Drizzle the sauce over each floret. Serve.
  8. To store, store the baked cauliflower and sauce separately. Heat the sauce, pour over the 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.

Its easy for the sauce to go from mild to super hot with the broken chilies. Whole chilies add a smoked mild heat flavor and you can adjust the heat using pepper flakes later. I usually break half the chilies and use hot cayenne or thai and the sauce easily gets to 5 star heat. 

Original Recipes visit: Spicy Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower @ veganricha.com

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