Batter-coated cauliflower florets tossed in thick sticky sauce is very much in with my family right now. I’ve already done two—one with chili orange sauce and the other with soy chili honey garlic sauce—and now, I add a third. This time, it’s crispy buffalo cauliflower florets. Think of it as vegetarian Buffalo chicken wings.
I won’t pretend that it wasn’t torture cooking this vegan dish. It was. Not because the recipe is complicated but because it’s so darn hot right now. Height of summer. And, historically, the temperature and humidity soar to insane extremes during Lent. Black Saturday might as well be Red Hot Saturday. And I live in a hilly suburb, for goodness sakes. It’s worse for the folks down in Metro Manila. A friend whose family owns a vegetable farm on the cooler hills of Tanay drove back to the city this morning and, on Facebook, she related how the newly harvested vegetables, transported in an air-conditioned car, just wilted as soon as the hot air touched them.
Ah, life in the tropics. It may sound dreamy for people who have to live through bitter winters year in and year out but, for us who have lived with the terrible summer heat for just as long, we dread the summer months. And if you think that turning on the air-conditioner is an ideal solution, know that the Philippines has the third highest power rates in Asia and 16th in the entire world, and we’re a Third World country. And we’re supposed to be happy about that because we used to be on top of the list in Asia.
*Sigh* That’s why you’re seeing more Dining Out posts than usual. On days when cooking can lead to a heart attack, we just eat out.
Anyway, all that is just to explain why it was such an effort making these crispy Buffalo cauliflower florets. Nothing to do at all with hard-to-find ingredients nor complicated cooking processes. This is a very simple recipe that requires one mixing bowl and one frying pan.
- 1 large head cauliflower
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- cooking oil
- For the Buffalo sauce:
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Rinse the cauliflower well. Cut into florets.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and starch with the salt and pepper. Pour in iced water little by little, mixing as you pour, until you have a thick but still pourable batter.
- In a frying pan or wok, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least two inches.
- Dump the cauliflower florets into the batter and mix lightly but thoroughly to coat each floret with batter.
- Drop the batter-coated florets one by one into the hot oil. Cook over medium-high heat, turning them over midway through the cooking, until crispy and lightly browned. Scoop out the florets and spread on a rack.
- Pour off the oil from the pan. Add all the ingredients for the Buffalo sauce and half of the sesame seeds. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture reaches boiling point.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cauliflower florets to the sauce and toss to coat all of them well.
- Transfer the crispy Buffalo cauliflower florets to a plate (or plates if you want to serve them individually like I did) and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Optionally, sprinkle in some chopped parsley too.
- Serve the crispy Buffalo cauliflower florets at once.