Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. Super hot Appetizer for gameday. Vegan Recipe. Can be gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Double the kung pao sauce for larger cauliflower or to serve over rice.
These crispy kung pao cauliflower bites are just that, crispy, spicy, juicy, hot, and super fun. Bake the cauliflower, make the kung pao sauce. Arrange the cauliflower in one layer in a serving plate/bowl. Drizzle the sauce just before serving.
The dish can also be served with rice or other cooked grains. The recipe is for snack kung pao cauliflower bites. Double the sauce to serve over rice, or if you have a good large cauliflower head. The sauce can get hot depending on the chilies you use. Taste before drizzling over the cauliflower. If too hot, make another batch of the sauce without the chilies and mix. For a quick recipe, toss cauliflower in salt, cayenne and oil and bake until done, or cook in a pan with a splash of water until tender, then toss in the sauce. Serve with a jar of cold water. 🙂
For the Baked Crispy Cauliflower:
5 tbsp corn starch or other starch
1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) cayenne use a 1/3 tsp for less heat
2 tsp soy sauce
6 tbsp bread crumbs use gluten-free crumbs to make gf
5 tbsp or more water
1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) salt
1/4 tsp (0.25 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 (8 to 10 ) dried red chilies chinese red chilies, or arbol or cayenne, or use california red for less heat
1/2 tsp (0.5 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
2.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce/tamari use certified gluten-free sauce to make gf
1.5 to 2 tbsp (1.5 to 1 tbsp) rice vinegar
1 tsp chinese rice wine optional
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup (63 ml) + 2 tbsp water use 1/2 cup for more sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220ºc. 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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, Drizzle the sauce over each floret. Serve.
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. 🙂