Crispy baked cauliflower pieces are coated with a spicy sweet and sour firecracker sauce. It’s a healthier version of firecracker chicken.
I came across a recipe for firecracker chicken recently and immediately wanted to make a cauliflower version. The chicken version requires the chicken to be baked in the sauce, but I didn’t want the cauliflower to get too soft.
So instead, the cauliflower is coated in panko and baked until crispy. It’s then drizzled with the fiery red firecracker sauce.
The sauce is spicy, sweet and a little bit tangy. It also has a buttery richness to it which helps to tone down some of the spice. Most versions of firecracker chicken I came across use buffalo sauce. I didn’t have any buffalo sauce on hand, so I made my own version by adding butter to hot sauce.
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- canola cooking oil spray
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 2 green scallions, finely sliced
- 6 tbsp sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce of your choice)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large (three-quarter) baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out panko bread crumbs onto baking sheet in a very thin and even layer. You want all of the panko to bake evenly so you don't want your layer to be too thick. If your baking sheet is too small, you can use two baking sheets. Spray panko lightly and evenly with canola oil spray. Bake about 5 minutes until crumbs are a light golden brown. Allow crumbs to cool.
- Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a cauliflower piece and coat it in whisked eggs, making sure to shake off any excess egg drippings before adding it to the panko bread crumbs (if the egg drippings get onto the panko, the panko will not stick to the ball). Place cauliflower onto sheet of panko crumbs. Dry your hands and scoop some panko over the cauliflower and press crumbs onto cauliflower. Remove cauliflower and place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
- Place cauliflower into oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower are crispy and a dark golden brown.
- While cauliflower is cooking, make the sauce. Add sriracha, butter, brown sugar, vinegar and salt into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir and cook until everything is evenly mixed. Allow the sauce to simmer until it is slightly thickened and reduces by 1/3. Taste and adjust as needed. If you like things spicy, add in the pepper flakes. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water. Pour into the sauce and immediately stir so that the cornstarch does not clump up. Bring sauce to a simmer again and cook until sauce thickens again (the bubbles should appear thicker and slower to pop when the sauce thickens). Your sauce should still be a liquid, but it should be a thick liquid so that it will cling and coat the cauliflower.
- Pour sauce over cauliflower right before serving. Garnish with scallions. The sauce will cause the cauliflower coating to lose its crispness soon after so it is best to wait until right before eating to add the sauce and to consume right away.
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