Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso’s Cauliflower: A vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out.
Back in the day, ordering Chinese food was a rare treat. It may have been the fact that as an Italian/Danish family living in the South, eating Chinese food happened as often as a confirmed Big Foot sighting. Our options usually consisted of pizza or… pizza. Therefore, grabbing Chinese food was a really big deal. We were never the family that ate out a lot, and grabbing food to go was an even rarer occurrence.
So, it makes sense that when we did have it, we went all out. I swear my sisters and I would order just about everything on the menu including a double orders of wonton soup and General Tso’s. Because nothing is more tragic than having to share wonton dumplings or General Tso’s.
While my take-out preferences have changed significantly since high school (Thai everything, Chinese never), I will always associate Chinese food with my sisters. A few weeks ago, I got a random craving for General Tso’s and wanted to try to recreate it my way- sans chicken and without loads of oil and sugar.
O.M.G. Crispy yet tender, Cauliflower General Tso’s was born! I heard a rumor that 2015 is slated to be the year of the cauliflower, to which I say- bring it! Panko in one hand, spicy sauce in the other, I am armed and ready.
The beauty of cauliflower is it’s blank canvas and relatively neutral flavor. Perfect to be dunked in a crispy batter, baked until golden and then covered in the best spicy, slightly sweet sauce out there.
Sure, it’s cauliflower but no one is thinking of vegetables after a bite of this dish.
To get every bite as flavorful as the next, make sure you are coating your cauliflower really well. I am using a three part mixture that allows every surface to be coated in crispy panko crumbs. Since I want to bake these to keep the fat down, I am using panko instead of regular bread crumbs. I think that panko crumbs keep their texture much better after baking than traditional crumbs. For a gluten-free version, you could make your own using gluten-free bread, just make sure you keep some texture.
Dip each floret first in flour, then in milk, and finally into the panko. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake! Then toss, coat and chomp!
If you have any leftovers, keep the cauliflower florets and sauce separate. To heat, place the cauliflower back on a baking sheet and let warm in the oven until hot. Heat the sauce and pour on.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, stem removed
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs (see above; use homemade gluten-free or store bought gluten-free crumbs for GF version)
- ½ cup whole-wheat (or regular flour- use gluten-free flour for GF version)
- 1⅔ cup water
- ⅓ cup soy sauce or Tamari
- ¼ cup apricot jam
- 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1¼ tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the milk, breadcrumbs and flour in separate shallow bowls.
- One at a time, dip the cauliflower floret into the flour, then milk, and then the panko breadcrumbs.
- Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, whisk together the water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar.
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add in the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant.
- Whisk in the soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove cauliflower from oven and coat with sauce.
- Serve with brown rice and garnish with sesame seeds and/or scallions.