Monday, August 31, 2015

Chinese five spice roasted cauliflower in a "manchurian" sauce

This is my riff on a cauliflower manchurian, a popular dish at Indian Chinese restaurants. In the traditional version, the cauliflower florets are dipped into a batter and deep fried. Then the fried cauliflower is tossed in a spicy sauce. I decided to stay away from deep frying and roasted the cauliflower instead. I used Chinese five spice to flavor the cauliflower which is a mixture of spices. Most commonly used spices are star anise, cloves and cinnamon with the bite of Szechwan pepper, all married together with ground fennel seeds. The roasted cauliflower tastes great on its own, but I wanted to make a "manchurian gravy". On its own the roasted cauliflower makes for great finger food.
Chinese Five Spice Roasted cauliflower in a "manchurian" sauce

1.5 lb cauliflower, cut into medium sized pieces (large florets cut into quarters and the smaller ones into two)
1 teaspoon Chinese Five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
3/4th teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

For the sauce
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 heaped teaspoon black bean chili sauce

  1. Preheat a large baking sheet at 425 F. Toss the cauliflower with the five spice powder, garlic powder, white pepper powder, salt and 2 tablespoons canola oil. Mix till all the florets are well coated. Then lay them on the baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 25 minutes.
  2. Towards the last few minutes of cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the chopped onion and the sliced garlic and a tiny pinch of salt and cook for about 3 minutes - at this point the onion will start to pink at the edges. Add the roasted cauliflower to the onion mixture and the ingredients for the sauce and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the fire. Serve hot.
Serves 3 with an egg fried rice or 4 as part of a multi-course meal

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