Sweet and sour cauliflower is my veggie take on the classic takeaway special. Crispy battered cauliflower drizzled with a wonderfully tart and sticky sauce. This recipe is truly delicious and will fill all your greasy takeout needs.
I’m a sucker for any kind of vegan cauliflower recipe. There’s something so delightfully satisfying about biting into a fresh and crisp cauliflower floret. This recipe for sweet and sour cauliflower is my inventive take on a classic veggie cauliflower recipe.
Unlike other sweet and sour vegetable dishes the fried crispy cauliflower stands up well to the sauce. It doesn’t melt into mush and obscurity like other vegetables would. This recipe is most definitely not a traditional use of cauliflower, but it’s an exceptional one – you won’t be disappointed.
Sweet and sour cauliflower sauce
Sweet and sour sauce is really a blanket term for a whole range of Asian and European sauces. Specifically in this recipe I’m referring to the westernised Chinese sauce that’s enjoyed throughout the world – made famous by sweet and sour chicken and pork dishes.
My sweet and sour sauce is a twist on the takeaway-traditional version of sweet and sour sauce that we’re familiar with. My sweet and sour sauce recipe uses oranges and fresh green chillies to elevate some of the flavours. It’s got a wonderful subtle heat that works great with the hits of sour and sweet.
The magic ingredient to all quick sauce recipes is cornflour it rapidly thickens the sauce when heated. The end result is a sticky and gloopy sauce that’s packing a ton of flavour.
How to make crunchy cauliflower
I love cauliflower, but I always have one problem with it. Whenever I cook cauliflower I have to work hard not to turn it to mush. There’s nothing better than crunchy cauliflower with a lovely soft center. With this recipe I’ve cracked the formula for a no-egg and no-dairy batter that delivers maximum crunch.
The key is the cornflour slurry. Mix 1 cup cornflour with 1 cup plain flour and 3/4 cup of water. This forms a gloopy slurry that I use like egg for many of my batters. Dip the cauliflower in this then rub it in whatever coating you want – breadcrumbs, flour, e.t.c. After frying this batter will hold its crunch for a long time.
One further thing to keep the cauliflower crunchy is to use a wire rack to place the finished cauliflower onto. It’s crucial to allow the fat to drip off the fried cauliflower, otherwise it’ll just start to get soggy.
When to eat sweet and sour cauliflower
Thanks to cauliflower’s hardiness and versatility it’s broadly available year-round in the UK. The peak season, however, runs from spring until late summer. If you’re looking for other sweet and sour vegetables to substitute for the cauliflower other brassicas like broccoli work great. Alternatively try using par boiled sweet potato cubes for vegetable alternatives to tofu pieces.
If you’re looking for other cauliflower recipes to enjoy using the mighty brassica I have loads on the site. Some of my personal favourites are my creamy roast cauliflower pasta recipe and kentucky fried cauliflower.
This meal is around 93% less polluting than the average UK meal.
- Eating this recipe will save around 2.74 KG CO2e per person.
- That’s equivalent to the emissions produced driving 22.62 KM in a modern car.
- 1 Large Head Cauliflower (chopped into even 1-inch florets)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 Cup Cornflour (around 100g)
- 1 Cup Plain Flour (around 120g)
- 1 1/2 Cups Water (260ml)
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Cup Cornflour (around 50g)
- 1/2 Cup Plain Flour (around 60g)
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
Sweet And Sour Sauce
- 4 Cloves Garlic (finely diced)
- 1 Medium Green Chilli (finely diced)
- 2 Large Oranges (juiced)
- 2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Cornflour
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Sweet And Sour Sauce
- In a mixing bowl mix together the juice from the 2 large oranges, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
- Place the 1 teaspoon of cornflour into a small bowl and pour in about a teaspoon of the sweet and sour liquid. Mix into a smooth paste using a fork or spoon. Then add a further teaspoon and mix again. Then pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the rest of the sauce ingredients and combine well.
- Heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Toss in the 4 chopped garlic cloves and diced chilli, fry for a couple of minutes until the chilli has softened.
- Pour in the sweet and sour sauce mixture and stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a rolling boil and heat until the cornflour begins to make the sauce nice and thick. Remove the pan from the heat and reserve until needed.
Crispy Battered Cauliflower
- In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the cornflour slurry until thick and gloopy.
- Prepare the cornflour batter in a larger mixing bowl. Combine the 1/2 cup cornflour, 1/2 cup plain flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Once evenly combined add in the tablespoon of soy sauce, tablespoon rice wine vinegar and a tablespoon of the sweet and sour sauce. Sift the batter with your hands trying to form as many clumps in the batter as possible. The more breadcrumb sized pieces the better.
- Take a cauliflower floret and dunk into the cornflour slurry. Coat the piece entirely before removing and placing into the cornflour batter. Cover the cauliflower floret in the flour mixture until completely coated. Remove and place the battered cauliflower floret onto a clean baking tray. Repeat this process until all of your cauliflower pieces are coated.
- Heat a large saute pan or saucepan over a medium high heat. Pour in enough vegetable oil to coat about 1/2 of the thickness of an individual cauliflower floret. Toss a small chunk of discarded battered cauliflower into the oil and wait for it to start violently spit and bubble. This is when your oil is hot enough to begin frying.
- Working in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan with too much cauliflower, begin to fry the battered florets. Place the florets into the hot oil and fry for 4 minutes before turning and frying for a further 4 minutes. Whilst cooking occasionally flick oil over the top of the florets to baste them in the hot oil. After frying they should be a lovely shade of golden brown. Remove the florets and reserve placing on a wire rack, season generously. Continue this process until all the cauliflower is done.
- Once all the pieces of cauliflower have fried return the pan with the sweet and sour sauce back to the heat. Heat through until the sauce is nice and hot again. Toss in the cauliflower and coat well in the sauce.
- Serve the cauliflower immediately with fried rice or thick noodles.