Korean Fried Cauliflower
A fun and vegetarian spin on Korean Fried Chicken, using cauliflower instead. Ultra crispy cauliflower bites are coated in a savory and sweet soy garlic sauce.
One of my favorite dishes to eat is Korean Fried Chicken. I order it whenever I see it on the menu. Chicken is coated in a wet slurry batter that produces extra crunchy fried chicken. It’s then usually served with a spicy sauce or soy garlic sauce.
After successfully making buttermilk fried cauliflower, I wanted to try making a cauliflower version of my favorite Korean fried chicken.
The Wet Slurry
The slurry is a combination of flour, cornstarch, baking powder, vodka and water.
The Korean fried chicken method uses a combination of cornstarch and flour. Because cornstarch is almost pure starch, it produces a much crispier crust than a batter using only flour.
The idea to add vodka came from Serious Eats. The volatility of vodka makes the batter dry faster, producing a crispier crust. I’ve experimented with adding vodka to many of my fried recipes which start with a wet batter and it always makes a difference.
Normally, you may be able to omit the vodka and still get a crunchy crust with just cornstarch and flour. However since there is so much moisture in cauliflower, a crunchy exterior is much harder to achieve without it. I tried versions with and without and the version without the vodka immediately turned soft
Baking powder helps to raise and aerate the batter, which helps to produce a crunchy coating.
As a result of all of these ingredients, when the batter reacts to the hot oil, it turns into this wispy crispy coating.
The cauliflower is then coated in an addictive soy sauce garlic glaze. It’s sweet, savory, garlicky and slightly spicy.
- 1 small head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
- oil for frying
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 green scallions thinly sliced
Soy Garlic Glaze
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Gochujang
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
In a medium bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, baking powder, ice water and vodka. Whisk until smooth. The batter should be thin with the consistency of paint.
Add oil to pot or pan being used for frying. Add about 1 inch of oil and bring to medium heat.
Working in batches, toss some of the cauliflower into the wet batter until evenly coated. Shake off excess batter drippings and then add cauliflower pieces to hot oil. Cook until batter is crispy and a light golden brown. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
To make the glaze, add all glaze ingredients except cornstarch and water to a small saucepan. Stir to evenly mix and bring sauce to a simmer. Taste and adjust as needed. Keep in mind the final version will have a more concentrated flavor. I prefer my sauce to be a little more sweet but if you prefer more savory you can add a little more soy sauce.
In a small bowl, stir cornstarch and water until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Add to the glaze and immediately stir it in so the cornstarch does not clump. Allow sauce to simmer until thickened. Remove from heat.
Brush cauliflower pieces with glaze. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve while cauliflower is still hot and crispy.
All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.
- Adapted from Serious Eats
- Because of how delicate the crispy coating is, I found it better to brush the sauce on rather than tossing the cauliflower in the sauce.
- The cauliflower will start to soften after the sauce is added, so I recommend adding the glaze right before serving.
- Gochujang is a Korean chili paste that can be found at most Asian grocery stores.
- Mirin is a sweetened Japanese rice wine that can be found at most Asian grocery stores.