I was doing my usual weekly shopping when out of the corner of my eye I saw a gorgeous orange cauliflower looking straight at me. Calling my name. So I bought it. For $2.99.
Later that afternoon, I poured through my recipe book to find a new thing to do with this delicious vegetable. Au gratin? Steamed? Riced? I had done it all before.
I got a stroke of inspiration when I ran across a photo of my nephew, Justin, and me during my brief stint in San Francisco.
We were spending our day together and ended up in China Town looking for fish pedicures. You know, the treatment where fish clean your feet. Anyway, it was around lunchtime and there were (obviously) a bunch of Chinese food restaurants in sight. We were famished so I asked him what he wanted to eat and he said, “Orange chicken. Is there a Panda Express around here?” I was shocked, but understood that his preferences had been shaped by fast food.
So, instead of the usual method of preparing my cauliflower, I went rogue. Homemade fast food was on my agenda so I decided to make a mock orange chicken – battered, fried and saucy!
You can use white cauliflower for this recipe but the dish will not present the same as in the photo. The orange color of the vegetable gives the effect of being deep-fried like actual orange chicken or sweet and sour pork.
Mae Ploy is my favorite sweet chili sauce. I use it for Thai salmon cakes, calamari strips, catfish fingers and more. Its flavor well balanced between the sweet and spicy and the consistency is perfect. You can find it in any Asian market, but conventional grocery stores sometimes carry it in the ethnic section (which is a ridiculous name)
1 large orange cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
½ cup Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce
1 cup AP flour
Tablespoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup of water
Oil for frying
Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
To make the batter combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using a whisk, slowly stir in the water and stir to create a batter. It should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of the spoon.
Dip the florets in the batter then add to the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown.
Add the sweet chili sauce and cauliflower to a bowl and toss until the veggie is coated. Serve garnished with cilantro, sesame seeds or green onion and over brown rice.