Kung Pao Cauliflower

Roasting the cauliflower adds an even caramelization, but feel free to do this all on the stove top for one less dish.

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 1¾ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 dried japones chiles, chiles de árbol, or other red chiles
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns or ½ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 scallions, dark-green and white parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • Kosher salt
  • Steamed white rice (for serving)
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Remove leaves and cut cauliflower into medium florets. Trim woody end of stalk and discard, then cut stalk into ½”-thick pieces. I like to cut the cauliflower into “slices” for more surface area (See pics)
  3. Coat cauliflower with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, turning the pieces about halfway through.
  4. While cauliflower is roasting, Stir wine, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl; set marinade aside.
  5. Stir vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and remaining 2 tsp. soy sauce in a small bowl; set sauce aside.
  6. Give reserved marinade a stir to reincorporate cornstarch and add roasted cauliflower to bowl; toss to coat.
  7. Meanwhile over medium heat add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in wok. Add dried chiles and peppercorns and cook, tossing, just until fragrant (be careful not to burn), about 30 seconds. Transfer chiles, and peppercorns to a plate.
  8. Return cauliflower to wok with a slotted spoon; discard excess marinade. Add scallion whites, serrano chile, ginger, garlic, peanuts, and reserved sauce and cook, tossing often, until fragrant and cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a platter and top with scallion greens. Serve with rice alongside.

Adapted from this recipe.

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