Kung Pao Cauliflower

January 22, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by WoonHeng Chia
Author Notes

This Kung Pao Cauliflower has a great balance of sweet, salty, spicy with a touch of tang.

Kung Pao is a popular dish from Sichuan which involves tempering the Sichuan peppercorns before adding the rest of the spices. Over the years, there are many different adaptations of this dish. This Kung Pao Cauliflower has the heat from the dried chili without the numbing spice -- which is similar to the taste I grew up with.

The recipe is easily customizable to your personal preference. For example, you can replace cauliflower with broccoli or any types of florets. Today, I'm using the cauliflower that I've mixed with a simple batter and fry them until golden brown. Feel free to bake or air-fry the cauliflower and check the notes for substitutes. Enjoy! —WoonHeng Chia

Test Kitchen Notes

- The batter should be thick enough to coat the florets with a layer of coating. If the batter is too runny, add a little more flour.
- Dark soy sauce has two versions, the thick one is usually sweeter while the thin one is a little saltier. Adjust the taste accordingly.
- Feel free to replace the Chinese black vinegar with rice vinegar
- Please sauté the dried chili over low heat as they can burn very quickly. —The Editors

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head yields about 4-5 cups of florets
  • 4 slices of ginger
  • 4 dried chilies cut into smaller bits and remove the seeds
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashews or nuts of choice
  • For Batter and Sauce
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce thin version (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons ShaoXing cooking wine or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
In This Recipe
  1. Prepare the sauce. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Set aside
  2. Prepare the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and rinse them over cold water. Let them drain in a colander.
  3. Prepare the batter. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, white pepper, and water until well combined.
  4. Dredge cauliflower florets in the batter and shake off excess. Fry or air fry the florets until golden brown.
  5. Transfer the fried florets onto some paper towels to absorb excess oil (if using the fry method).
  6. Heat a large wok or pan and add in a spoonful of oil. Sauté chili until fragrant over low heat, then add in the ginger and sauté until fragrant. Continue to do the same for garlic.
  7. Add in the bell pepper, red onion, and stir fry for another minute.
  8. Whisk the sauce again (corn starch may have set at the bottom of the bowl) and pour into the above mixture. Then, continue to cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.
  9. Add in the cauliflower florets and quickly toss to coat the florets with sauce. Taste test and season accordingly.
  10. Finally, fold in the toasted cashews and give it a quick toss. Serve warm and enjoy!

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