Sticky Wok Fried Cauliflower With Asian Spices
Introducing "Live More Veg" + roasting cauliflower in a wok + a fragrant homemade Sichuan spice mix
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This Wok Fried Cauliflower With Asian Spices is a recent favourite of ours that I first cooked up at the start of the pandemic and it has stuck. Mainly because it is clever, one-pan cooking at its best. And the Sichuan spice mix with its combination of several warm, earthy, fragrant spices is absolutely delicious.
If you have only roasted cauliflower in the oven before, I am going to show you one of my preferred cauliflower roasting techniques that only take 10 minutes! In a hot wok!
The beauty of this technique is that it not only roasts the cauliflower to a level of golden al dente but also imparts it with a delicate smokiness that really adds complexity to the flavour of this dish. But first, tell me; do you think there is such a thing as a perfectly ripe cauliflower? I do! Let me tell you how I pick one that cooks perfectly.
A perfectly ripe cauliflower
When picking a cauliflower for a stir-fry dish, smaller heads are infinitesimally better than larger ones.
You want a cauliflower that has its gorgeous leaves attached to the base, but not one that is encased in the leaves. The leaves should be almost completely open and the head visible.
White cauliflowers are the firmest. These would be freshly harvested. You want cauliflowers that have aged a few days with heads that are creamy and starting to turn beige.
When you move the florets around, they aren’t clumped together tightly but the stems have a bit of a give. There is a creaminess to the feel of the florets. They feel tender and not super crisp. This is perfect for cooking and will cook in a wok in 10 minutes.
Roasting the cauliflower in a wok
The wok is important here. You can make stir-fries in large cast-iron saute pans or non-stick frying pans, but the difference in flavour is phenomenal when you make stir-fries in a large carbon steel wok.
Carbon steel is very thin, so the wok heats up super fast and smokes. It retains that glorious heat and transfers it to the food, charring it slightly. That smokiness, that char and that flavour is the wok hei - a Cantonese term that literally translates to “breath of the wok”.