Kung Pao cauliflower is a delicious and very easy to make Vegan Asian recipe. The dish has baked cauliflower, cashew nuts/ peanuts, and peppers coated in a thick Asian sauce. It can be enjoyed as a starter or served in the main course with rice or noodles.
If you are a food blogger or you just enjoy trying different dishes at home, many times you end up making weird but interesting combinations in your final menu:).
Yesterday, I had planned to prepare a few dishes for my blog and then serving them for dinner. However, since I try recipes from around the world, my final dinner was a three-course meal and every course was from a different country.
For starter we had an Asian dish- Kung Pao cauliflower (you can also have it in the main course with fried rice or noodles), the main course was Indian – Matar paneer, roti, and salad with a middle eastern side dish- labneh. We finished it off with an American dessert – brownies with ice-cream.
Though the combination was weird everything was delicious and we relished the dinner. I think that is what really matters.
Today I am sharing the recipe of the starter of that meal- Kung Pao Cauliflower.
To be honest, the first Kung Pao recipe that I ever tried was of Kung Pao Chicken and it became one of my favorite Asian recipes. I was a non-vegetarian at that time.
Kung Pao Cauliflower is a vegan version of that dish. Now, I feel it tastes even better than Kung Pao Chicken
Story behind Kung Pao
It's believed that the first Kung Pao dish- Kung Pao chicken was the creation of Ding Baozhen -a governor of Sichuan province of the Qing dynasty.
Chicken and peanuts were two of his favorite things to eat and he loved spices too. In this dish, he mixed all his favorite things and came up with a very flavorful dish.
Kung Pao was Ding Baozhen's honorable official title and that's how the dish got its name. The literal meaning of Kung Pao is 'an officer who tutors the crown prince'.
In the original version, the chicken gets fried with peanuts, chili peppers, and sauce. However, in this healthier vegan version, I have marinated and baked cauliflower before adding the sauce. The sauce also needs very little oil so you can enjoy it without worrying much about the calorie intake.
Don't miss to check my another Kung Pao recipe- Kung Pao noodles with charred broccoli
Tips & Tricks
- For a healthier version, I have baked the cauliflower. However, if you want you can also deep fry or air fry it.
- The original recipe uses peanuts but here I have added cashew nuts. You can use either of them. A combination of peanuts and cashew nuts can also be used.
- For gluten-free Kung Pao cauliflower use gluten-free bread crumbs or roasted chickpea flour. Also, replace soya sauce with tamari.
- You can also make Kung Pao broccoli or Kung Pao tofu by following the same recipe.
How to serve?
This Asian cauliflower dish can be served as an appetizer or in the main course with any rice or noodle dish like Mushroom noodles, Mushroom rice, Chili garlic noodles, tofu rice, even with plain steamed jasmine rice.
You can also use it in Vegan Asian bowls or wraps.
More easy cauliflower recipes
I love cauliflower and if you do too then don't miss to check the following recipes on my blog:
If you try any of my recipes then please don’t miss to rate it in the comments section below.
Step by step photo instructions
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How to make Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower?
Kung Pao Cauliflower
Ingredients for baked cauliflower florets
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 4 tbsp corn starch
- 5 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 7 tbsp water adjust the quantity to make a thick batter
Ingredients for sauce
- 2.5 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar/ white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine optional
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tbsp water for cornstarch paste
- 1 cup water for the sauce
Ingredients for stir-frying
- 4-5 dried whole red chilies
- ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns/ normal black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 tbsp peanuts/ cashew nuts both can be used too
- 5 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 inch piece of ginger crushed
- ¼ cup finely chopped scallion
- 1 tbsp any cooking oil of your choice
Baking cauliflower florets
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients of batter and dip the cauliflower florets into it. Spread the florets on a nonstick baking tray.
- Bake the cauliflower florets in a pre-heated oven for around 15 minutes at 200°C or until the cauliflower florets get cooked and turn golden brown.
Making Kung Pao Cauliflower
- Heat oil in a pan, add red chilies and peppercorns. Break the chilies if you want your dish to be extra hot else keep them whole. Saute for a few seconds or until they become fragrant.
- Add the nuts and saute until they start changing their color.
- Add crushed ginger, garlic, and saute for a few seconds.
- Next, add scallions and stir fry for a few more seconds.
- In a bowl mix soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, and salt. Add this mixture to the pan along with a cup of water. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce starts bubbling.
- Make cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch with around 2 tablespoons of water and add to the bubbling sauce. Stir for a few seconds and then cook for around 2-3 minutes or until the sauce becomes thick.
- Add baked cauliflower florets to the sauce and mix everything until the sauce gets evenly coated on each floret. Cook for about a minute and then switch off the gas.
- Garnish with chopped scallion and enjoy.
- You can also use peanuts instead of cashew nuts.
- For a gluten-free version use gluten-free bread crumbs or roasted chickpea flour. Also, replace the soya sauce with Tamari.