General Tso Popcorn Cauliflower

As a food fanatic and lifestyle blogger, we are always looking for healthy alternatives to our favorite cheat meals. Cauliflower is one of our favorite vegetables because it's so versatile in terms of how you can use it.  It makes a great substitute for pizza crust and chicken wings so we figured why not make some popcorn chicken (which our friends rave about from places like PF Changs).  We starting looking up general tso recipes and came across a few we loved.  In the end we merged the batter recipe from Pinch of Yum and the sauce from Pure Wow.  This recipe is quite time consuming, but it is so delicious!!!! You're friends will be absolutely amazed (ours were!).   

This is a great recipe to try on the weekend with friends.  Get your hands dirty and enjoy this movie snack! 

Time: Approximately 1 hour

serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets 
  • scallions and sesame seeds for toppings

Batter

  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅔ cup cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 eggs
  • water as needed (about ½ cup)

Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 6 scallions, white part finely sliced, green part chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 5 small dried chiles (optional)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs and water.  Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour, whisking constantly. You should end up with a thick but still dip-able batter (thin with a little water if needed). 

2. Heat the oil in a medium cast iron skillet until very hot (you can test it by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil--it should immediately sizzle and float).

3. Dip each piece of cauliflower fully in the batter, then place in the oil. Pan-fry the cauliflower until it’s golden on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper towels.

4. In a medium pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the finely-chopped white scallions, garlic, ginger and chiles, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Add the broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch to combine. Pour about ¼ cup of the hot sauce over the mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and lump free. Return the mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in the large pieces of green scallion.

7. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and has good flavor, 7 to 9 minutes more.

8. Add the cauliflower to the pot and toss to coat until the cauliflower is rewarmed, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds and with a side of steamed rice.