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Fried Cauliflower; The New Fried Chicken. How To Wow Your Guests With Home Fried Cauliflower By Sophie Gilmour

You have to work hard to dodge fried chicken on the menu of most restaurants at the moment, and although I never thought I’d say this – I’m sick of it! It’s problematic when a great dish becomes a food trend and is reproduced millions of times. In the case of fried chicken, I’ve eaten some that Colonel Sanders himself would baulk at, but even more than that, it’s not something I want in my weekly diet.

One food trend that I am wholeheartedly embracing however, is the rise of the vegetable.  Food media is giving more glory to the vegetable than ever before, and whether it’s because people are eating more ‘flexitarian’, cooking at a more advanced level than before, or embracing more vegetable-focused cuisines (Middle Eastern) – meals that are centred on the vegetable are on the rise.

Perhaps the reason that cauliflower went off our weekly menus at home (despite being one of the most affordable vegetables when in season) is that recipes were constantly directing us to boil it. This provokes the already-subtle-flavour to escape into the cooking water during the cooking process, and leaves us with a bland vegetable for dinner. Cauliflower tastes great drizzled with olive oil and roasted (in a single layer on a roasting tray), particularly if you add your favourite spices to it first. My favourite thing about cauliflower is that the season comes on just after the Summer produce goes out and the weather is getting colder. My new favourite way to enjoy cauliflower however, is fried.

I’ve created the below recipe for you to try on your induction cooktop at home. If you’d like to serve it as a shared plate, then I’d encourage you to cut the cauli into florets. If you’d like to serve individual portions, cut the cauliflower into ‘steaks’ by cutting the whole cauliflower into one large slice per person. The zhoug will make more than you need (about 400ml). It keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

RECIPE

Home Fried Cauliflower with hummus, labne, pickled onions and zhoug
Serves 4-6 as a side dish, or 4 as an entrée

INGREDIENTS

Pink pickled onions:

  1. 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  2. 4 tbsp cider or rice wine vinegar
  3. 1 tbsp sugar

Zhoug:

  1. A large bunch coriander, roots removed (reserve some of the leaves for serving)
  2. 1-2 green chilli, deseeded
  3. 2 garlic, peeled
  4. 2 tbsp lemon juice
  5. 250 ml olive oil
  6. Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried cauliflower:

  1. 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  2. 150 gr flour
  3. 75 gr cornflour
  4. 300 ml soda or sparkling water
  5. 1 tbsp curry powder
  6. 1 tbsp turmeric
  7. Flaky sea salt
  8. Neutral oil for frying

PREPARATION

  1. To make the pink pickled onions, mix together the vinegar and sugar. Add the sliced red onion. Leave to pickle while you prepare the rest of the dish. Toss every so often to ensure all pieces of the onion pickle.
  2. To make the zhoug, blend all ingredients in a food processor or jug with a stick blender.  Season to taste and set aside.
  3. Make the cauliflower batter by whisking together flour, cornflour, spices, soda water and flaky sea salt until smooth. Heat the neutral oil (should be about 3 cm deep) in a large frying pan on induction mark 7 on your cooktop (or use a deep fryer set at 180 degrees). Once the oil is hot (test by dropping a small cube of bread into the oil, if it begins to crisp you’re ready) dredge the cauliflower florets in the batter until the vegetable is totally coated, and place into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn half way through to ensure even cooking. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining florets.
  4. To serve, spread the hummus and labneh on a serving platter. Top with fried cauliflower, pink pickled onions and coriander leaves. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve!

Tips:

Labneh is just fancy hung Greek yoghurt! Make labneh by spooning Greek yoghurt into a clean cheese or Chux cloth. Tie it on to the tap or on a wooden spoon resting above a bowl for 2-24 hours. Infuse with lemon rind, salt and pepper if you like.

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