I intended to serve this as a side dish but cooking the main course (salt and pepper pork) took longer than expected so I served the cauliflower as an appetizer instead. A smart decision, really, because my growling stomach quieted down to allow me to finish the salt and pepper pork without hurrying.
So, there are two steps in cooking this dish. The first is making the sauce. I have a sweet chili sauce recipe in the archive but I didn’t use that. Instead, I made a modified sweet chili sauce by using lemon juice exclusively (no vinegar) and using chili flakes for more color but less heat.
To make the sauce, just boil white sugar, lemon juice, grated ginger, grated garlic, salt and chili flakes until reduced to a syrup. The sauce thickens as it cools so if you’re making it ahead, keep it warm so that you can still drizzle it over the cauliflower.
If you can manage it, however, you may make the sauce and fry the cauliflowet at the same time. That way, you shorten the total cooking time.
The second part is frying the cauliflower. Cut it into florets, toss with an egg white, salt, pepper and potato starch and deep fry until lightly golden and crisp. Yes, Japanese chicken karaage-style.
If you have a lot of florets and your wok or frying pan is not all that large, cook the florets in batches. And remember to lay the fried florets on a rack to avoid steam buildup that will make the crust soggy faster.
Crispy cauliflower with chili lemon sauce
- 6 tablespoons white sugar
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chili flakes - Korean chili flakes, please!
- 1 cauliflower - trimmed and cut into florets
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons rock salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ to ⅓ cup potato starch - the amount depends on the size of the cauliflower
- cooking oil - for deep frying
Make the sauce
- Dump all the ingredients for the sauce into a sauce pan.
- Cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the mixture has thickened (it thickens as it cools so don't boil for too long).
Fry the cauliflower
- Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl, add the egg white, salt and pepper, and toss to moisten all the florets.
- Add the starch and toss thoroughly until the florets are evenly coated.
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of three inches.
- Fry the cauliflower florets until the crust is crisp.
Assemble the dish
- Divide the fried cauliflower florets among small bowls.
- Drizzle sauce over them.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.