It is said that one cannot eat too much meat. If you are a hard core carnivore, you could eat meat every day. I was like that. I am self confessed meat lover. I eat all kinds, the usual and the not so usual ones as well. But lately, I have had this thing about meat, I don’t seem to like it and the law of diminishing returns is kicking in, too much of anything is bound to have a repercussion.
The aversion to meat is so much that I cannot bear to look at them at the super market, I avoid the meat isle. I quickly skirt pass the deli section. My husband is seriously worried that something is wrong with me. On our date night I ask to go to a vegetarian restaurant and that is when he is like “Ok who are you and what have you done to my wife.” But he is very flexible when it comes to food, he can snap in and out of vegetarianism and meat just like that. So we decided the next week starting yesterday, unto Sunday this week we go vegetarian.
We settled on Chinese last night and P was like how can you have vegetarian Chinese, does such a thing even exist. So that is when it struck me, if we can have orange chicken, why can we not have orange cauliflower, Succulent pieces of cauliflower tossed in a rich orange sauce that could convince even the most faithful carnivores that vegetarian food can be fun.
The list of ingredients can seem a bit unnerving but the steps are simple and if you follow the instructions, actually quite easy as well.
So Orange Chicken goes vegetarian 🙂
- 1 medium sized cauliflower broken into florets
- 1/2 cup diced bell peppers ( use any colour)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water (to make a batter)
- Oil for frying + 1 tbsp
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I used the organic juice from whole foods)
- 2 tsp soy sauce ( use the light one)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp Sriracha (Or any other red hot sauce, even chings chilli garlic sauce works as well)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbs of vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
- green onion/ scallions, thinly sliced
- In a wok heat oil for frying. In a separate skillet/wok heat half tbsp. oil and Sauté the pepper for a min or 2 until they turn golden. Do not over cook. Next mix the corn starch and all-purpose flour with a pinch of salt and water to make a thick batter. The batter should be thick enough to coat the cauliflower florets evenly.
- Dip each cauliflower floret into the batter and add them into hot oil for frying. Fry them in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan.
- Once the batter covering the florets turns crisp, drain them out of the oil and place them on paper towels.
- Once you are done frying all the florets, you have to keep them crisp until you are ready to toss them in the sauce. You can do this either by keeping them warm in a pre-heated oven
- Now for the sauce, heat 1/2 tbsp oil in the pan you roasted the peppers in. Add minced ginger and garlic and sauté them for a min until they turn golden. Add the orange zest in. Next add the broth, orange juice, sriracha, soy sauce, sugar and mix well.
- Meanwhile, mix 2 tbsp of corn starch in water to make a thin paste. Once the broth-orange mixture begins to boil, lower the heat. Add the crushed black pepper and salt (according to taste)
- Add the corn starch paste into the boiling mixture in a slow steady stream. Make sure you stir the sauce as while adding the corn starch mixture. Once the mixture thickens, toss in the fried cauliflower and the sautéd bell peppers. Mix well and increase the heat and cook for a couple of mins.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions just before serving.
If you find the sauce sweet you can balance the taste by adding the couple of tbs vinegar, hence I have added that to the ingredient list.
I figured this dish tastes best with plain rice 🙂