General Tso's Cauliflower

December 17, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Like the origin of General Tso's Chicken, the origin of this recipe is also a little fuzzy, a mix of sources and stories. The sauce recipe is adapted from Reddit (yes, Reddit!) and the recipe for the battered and deep-fried cauliflower comes, like many great recipes do, from Serious Eats. Serve with rice, if you like. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the sauce and the frying
  • 2 quarts vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
  • 5 small dried chiles
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • For the cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 scallion, cut thinly on the bias, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for serving
  • Rice, for serving (optional)
  1. For the sauce and the frying
  2. In a large wok, Dutch oven, or deep fryer, preheat the oil to 350° F.
  3. Prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan, add sesame oil, garlic, scallions, ginger, and dried chiles. Sauté on medium heat for a couple minutes, then add hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, tamari, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Stir and let come to a slow boil.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. Mix it completely, then add the remaining water to the cornstarch. (this prevents lumps). Pour cornstarch-water mixture into bubbling sauce mixture. Keep it bubbling on low, whisking often. It will thicken slightly.
  1. For the cauliflower
  2. In a large bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, garlic powder, ground ginger, sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper and whisk until homogenous.
  3. Add water and vodka and whisk until a smooth batter is formed, adding up to 2 tablespoons additional water if batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of thin paint and fall off of the whisk in thin ribbons that instantly disappear as they hit the surface of the batter in the bowl.
  4. Add cauliflower to batter. Working with one piece at a time, lift and allow excess batter to drip off. Carefully lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining cauliflower until wok or fryer is full. Do not crowd pan. (You'll be able to fit about half of the cauliflower in each batch).
  5. Fry, using a metal spider or slotted spatula to rotate and poke the pieces as they cook until evenly golden brown and crisp all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm while you fry the remaining cauliflower.
  6. Once you've got all your cauliflower fried, add to a large bowl, pour the simmering sauce all over the pieces, and toss them to coat them evenly. Add in sliced scallion and sesame seeds, then serve over rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jess Robs
    Jess Robs
  • Betty Jo McDonald
    Betty Jo McDonald
  • chandinid
  • librariandrea
  • Carissa Williamson
    Carissa Williamson

17 Reviews

Jess R. April 5, 2020
I love this dish and make it frequently. I decided to try roasting the cauliflower (naked) without battering it to save time, and it turns out that that works really well too!
Darian April 2, 2019
Oh my this was wonderful! I would like to use this batter for many other things...and vary up the sauce too. My family loved it. Served over rice.
Betty J. September 4, 2017
I finally made this recipe! It was great. I happened to have all the ingredients except the hoisin sauce which I made from scratch. I think the hoisin sasuce will keep well for later use.
chandinid September 3, 2017
The origins aren't a mystery it's Gobi Manchurian. A common Indian dish.
Claudia May 16, 2017
What's the purpose of the vodka and can something replace it if you don't have any?
librariandrea April 12, 2017
So good. This is our 3rd time making it & it's totally worth the work.
Erin F. January 8, 2017
Has anyone tried baking the cauliflower instead of frying it?
Jen December 7, 2016
What flour type and quantity would you suggest for a Gluten Free version
A. G. June 27, 2019
I'm trying a blend of brown rice flour/tapioca flour and will let you know how it works out!
Sandra R. January 5, 2016
This is delicious and rather surprising. The breading on the cauliflower is light, crisp, and very full of flavor. I will make this again for sure!
Betty J. January 3, 2016
It looks great. I love cauliflowe but I hate the taste of vodka. Can I just make it without the vodka?
Sarah J. January 9, 2016
You won't be able to taste the vodka, but it is an essential ingredient in the batter, so you should not leave it out. Hope you enjoy!
MMC February 10, 2019
Can you sub roasted cauliflower for this?
Susan K. January 1, 2016
Does it work well if you make cauliflower ahead and then reheat it, putting the sauce on then?
Monika December 20, 2015
My husband and I made this tonight. It was delicious! Definitely on the labor intensive side, but fun to make and so worth it. We will certainly make it again.
BrooklynBridget December 21, 2015
Good to know it was worth it. Was looking for some fun for holiday break! Thanks!
Carissa W. December 20, 2015
Oops - didn't look at whole recipe - got them and I'll be making this soon! Thank you!