The combination of savory and sweet paired with crispy cauliflower is also a win-win at any party. This is my husband, David’s, absolute favorite recipe in the book, and he has tried them all!
Reprinted with permission from Epic Vegan © 2019.
Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
- 1 cup packed organic light brown sugar
- ½ cup water, divided
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 batch Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- Canola oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal or polenta
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups seltzer water
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into tiny florets (see Tip)
- 8 small (6-inch) soft taco shells, warmed (see Tip)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 2 scallions, chopped (optional)
- Cocktail peanuts, crushed (optional)
- White sesame seeds (optional)
Thai Chili Sauce
1. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, ¼ cup of the water, rice vinegar, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water to create a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the saucepan until well combined. Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until thickened.
3. Whisk in the ketchup and transfer to a serving dish or use as needed in a recipe. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Yield: 1 cup
1. To make the sauce: In a small saucepan whisk together the Thai chili sauce and peanut butter. Bring to a simmer and heat for 2 to 5 minutes, or until all the peanut butter has mixed in and the sauce is smooth and creamy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. To make the cauliflower: In a wok or large saucepan, pour 3 inches (7.5 cm) of canola oil. Heat the oil 350°F (175°C) when tested with a candy thermometer or a drop of batter bubbles up to the top and fries quickly. Line a plate with paper towels.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the seltzer water until well combined and a thick batter forms.
4. Working in 2 batches, transfer half of the cauliflower florets to the batter. Mix around until all the pieces are fully coated. Using tongs, shake off excess batter and carefully transfer battered cauliflower pieces, 1 at a time, into the frying oil.
5. Fry in small batches for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to the paper towel–lined plate. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
6. When all the cauliflower has been fried, transfer it to a large bowl and toss with the peanut-chili sauce.
7. To build the tacos: Start with a warm tortilla, 2 tablespoons (about 14 g) carrot, 2 tablespoons (about 9 g) cabbage, 6 to 8 coated cauliflower florets, and a sprinkle of scallions, peanuts, and sesame seeds (if using). Serve warm.
It’s important for these florets to be small so that several can fit on a taco. To make them the size of 1 or 2 marbles, completely remove the stem and cut the floret into smaller florets. Before you fry the cauliflower, warm the taco shells by setting them on a baking sheet (overlapping is okay) and placing in 200°F (93°C, or gas mark ½) oven until time to build the tacos.