Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower

Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower is a riff on an Indo-Chinese dish called Gobi Manuchurian. It is a specialty at the Chicago restaurant Rangoli, and I was determined to make it for myself.  After experimenting with more traditional preparations that involve stir-frying fresh ginger, garlic, and onion, I settled on a simpler recipe that involves much less prep time.  Ketchup, Sriracha, soy sauce, and honey make up the foundation of the sauce, and turmeric and garam masala bring it home. The result is a sweet and spicy sauce with hints of tomato and curry. 

If you have a deep frier, this recipe is a great use for it.  If you don't have a deep frier, you can heat the oil in a saucepan on the stove.  If you don't want to deep fry at all, you can use the same sauce with my recipe for Curried Roast Caulflower. The results will be slightly less crispy and decadent, but delicious nonetheless.

If you don't have garam masala or turmeric on hand, you can substitute yellow curry (add a pinch of ground cinnamon and ground ginger if you have them). 

Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower is best eaten immediately after being prepared.  If you want to re-heat the leftovers, serve them with something crunchy like fresh romaine or cucumber salad.

INGREDIENTS
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • For the Cauliflower
  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3  cup water, more if necessary
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • scallions , for garnish
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield2-3 servings
PREPARATION
  1. Prep.   Heat 2 inches of oil over medium heat in a deep fryer, heavy saucepan, or Dutch oven.  Chop the cauliflower into florets between ¼-inch and ½ inch.  De-seed and mince the Serrano pepper. Chop the green parts of the scallions into 1/8-inch rings and set aside.  Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels.
  2. Make the Sauce. In a small mixing bowl or measuring up, whisk together Sriracha, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, vinegar, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala.   Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the sauce mixture and heat until bubbling.  Add water and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 2-4 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to taste with salt, honey, cayenne, vinegar, etc. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on stove while you prepare the fritters.
  3. Make the Batter. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, Serrano pepper, turmeric, salt, and soy sauce.  Add water and stir to combine.  Continue to add water if necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a smooth batter (similar to thin pancake batter). Add the cauliflower to the bowl with the batter and use a rubber spatula to scoop the batter from the bottom and fold the cauliflower until all of the pieces are evenly coated in the batter.
  4. Fry the Cauliflower. The frying oil should be medium-low for deep-frying, about 325-350F (measure with a deep fry or candy thermometer if you have one). Working in several small batches, fry the cauliflower from 45 seconds - 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.  As you add each batch to the pot, move the pieces around with a wire ladle to make sure they don't stick together. Use a wire ladle or slotted metal spoon to remove the cauliflower florets to the paper towels.
  5. Get Saucy and Serve. Reheat the sauce over medium heat until it bubbles. Add the butter and stir to incorporate.  Carefully add the cauliflower fritters to the pan and use a high-heat rubber spatula to fold them gently and coat them evenly in the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped green scallions and serve immediately.

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