The first time I heard of cauliflower wings, I was so excited because 1) I love fried cauliflower, 2) I always hated regular chicken wings, even before going veg, and 3) I’m always on the lookout for good party foods. But a lot of the recipes I’ve tried are too gummy or not flavorful enough - so I wanted to try my hand at it. These are super sticky, better-than-takeout, sure-to-impress wings that make it worth it to deep fry.
Half of a head of cauliflower serves 4, a whole head serves a crowd. If you go for the whole head, double the batter ingredients.
- 1/2 a large head of cauliflower, chopped into wing-size florets
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, smoked paprika, parsley, and turmeric (last two mostly for color)
- a heaping pinch each salt & ground pepper
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk (many milks can work here, just not thin ones like rice milk)
- 2-3 cups panko breadcrumbs (optional, for extra crunch)
- oil for deep-frying (like peanut or canola)
- sesame seeds, to serve
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 3/4 cup brown rice syrup (or other thick liquid sweetener, like honey)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3-4 tbsp hot sauce (we used Sriracha and highly recommend it)
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Alternately, you can use your favorite store-bought sauce - whether it’s a sesame sauce, BBQ sauce, etc, they all work well!
- Chop up the cauliflower. You want tightly-packed florets for these, not the kinds that hang off the edge, so try to cut them into solid pieces. I like cutting them smaller than an average chicken wing so they’re easier to eat.
- Make the batter. Mix the rest of of the cauliflower ingredients together (except the panko, oil, and sesame seeds) in a medium bowl until consistent. If using panko, get another medium-large bowl out and pour the panko in.
- Prep your frying station. Get a large stock pot out and pour a few inches of oil in, enough so that the pieces will have room to float. Be sure to pick a pot with high sides to prevent spillage. Turn the heat on to medium and let warm, until you’re able to drop a few droplets of water in and it bubbles to the top. By the side of the stove, lay down a kitchen towel and put a drying rack (the kind you use for cookies) on top.
- Make the sauce while you’re waiting for the oil to heat. Pour all the sauce ingredients into a medium-large saucepot and whisk to combine. Taste to see how you like it, and add ingredients in as you see fit. Put it on high heat and let it reduce until it becomes a syrup-like consistency. (About 20-30 minutes. It should be ready by the time you’re done frying.) Stir every so often to prevent from boiling over.
- Deep fry! Coat your cauliflower in the batter. (If using panko, then coat in the breadcrumbs.) Using a metal slotted spoon or tongs, lower a few pieces in the oil at a time. Fry for about 7-10 minutes, or until they float to the top and are golden brown. You want to err on the side of overcooking, to make sure the cauliflower is cooked all the way through. Make sure they’re not sticking to each other or to the sides of the pan. When ready, use your spoon/tongs to drain the piece over the pot, then transfer to the rack. Repeat until all your batter is gone.
- Serve. Quickly dip each piece in the sesame sauce as you serve them. Don’t let them sit too long with the sauce on, or they’ll lose their crispiness - serve immediately after saucing. Then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy! :)