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General Tso's Cauliflower

Sometimes you just crave Chinese takeout, and good ol' General Tso is no stranger. But when we tried the vegetarian take on the take-out staple from David Burke Fabrick, we knew we had to get the recipe.
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Sometimes you just crave Chinese takeout, and good ol' General Tso is no stranger. But when we tried the vegetarian take on the take-out staple from David Burke Fabrick, we knew we had to get the recipe. Tender cauliflower florets are breaded and fried before getting tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce. It's the addictive vegetable recipe you've been waiting for.

For ultimate enjoyment, fry the cauliflower right before tossing with the sauce and serving. However, like takeout, next-day leftovers are a major bonus of this recipe.

General Tso's Cauliflower
Recipe adapted from Michael Franey, David Burke Fabrick, New York, NY

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the General Tso's Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 3-inch ginger knob, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
For the Cauliflower:
  • 1 large (3 pounds) cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the sesame and vegetable oils over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and sweat until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the soy sauce, sugar, Shaoxing wine, rice wine vinegar and ketchup, then bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the water and cornstarch into a smooth slurry. Once boiling, whisk the slurry into the saucepan and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large skillet and set aside.

3. Make the cauliflower: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Blanch the cauliflower in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain well.

4. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350º and line a plate with paper towels. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and rice flours, cornstarch and baking powder until incorporated. Transfer a third of the flour mixture to another large bowl and whisk in the soy milk. Add the cauliflower florets to the soy milk mixture and toss to coat. Drain the excess liquid and dredge in the remaining flour mixture, being sure to shake off any excess flour.

5. Working in batches, fry the cauliflower until crisp and golden, 4 to 5 minutes per batch, then transfer to the prepared plate to drain.

6. Heat the skillet with the reserved sauce over medium heat to warm through. Add the fried cauliflower and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions, then serve.