kung pao cauliflower

A great recipe. Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2016

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons corn starch

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 medium head of cauliflower ( about 1 3/4 lbs)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

3 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped (if want to stay vegetarian use vegan bacon)

6 dried japones chiles or other red dried chiles

1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

3 scallions, thinly sliced, dark green and white separated

1 serrano chile, sliced

1 one inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

Kosher salt

steamed rice for serving

Directions:

  • Stir wine, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl; set marinade aside.
  • Stir vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and remaining 2 tsp. soy sauce in a small bowl; set sauce aside.
  • Remove leaves and cut cauliflower into medium florets. Trim woody end of stalk and discard, then cut stalk into ½”-thick pieces. Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until browned in places and beginning to soften, 7–9 minutes. Give reserved marinade a stir to reincorporate cornstarch and add cauliflower to bowl; toss to coat. Toss occasionally while you cook the bacon.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Cook bacon and remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in wok, stirring often, until bacon is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add dried chiles and peppercorns and cook, tossing, just until fragrant (be careful not to burn), about 30 seconds. Transfer bacon, chiles, and peppercorns to a plate, leaving bacon drippings behind.
  • Return cauliflower to wok with a slotted spoon; discard excess marinade. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots and crisp-tender (short of scorching it, don’t worry about letting it go pretty dark), 8–10 minutes. Add scallion whites, serrano chile, ginger, garlic, and peanuts and cook, tossing often, until sauce is fragrant and cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes. Add bacon mixture and cook, tossing, just until sauce coats cauliflower, about 1 minute; season with salt.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and top with scallion greens. Serve with rice alongside.