Sesame Cauliflower Wings

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I can’t help getting excited for anything with cauliflower, especially these Sesame Cauliflower Wings! Like many adults, I remember trying cauliflower for the first time as a kid and being fairly unimpressed. I was definitely trying it raw, and probably without any sort of dip, so my reaction probably isn’t surprising.

Now cauliflower is one of my favorite foods. In addition to sesame cauliflower wings, it’s amazing in Indian curries and pakora and is a great mashed potato substitute and grain substitute in items like pizza crusts and gnocchi.

Cauliflower is also loaded with Vitamin C, Folate, and Vitamin K and contains 2 grams of protein per cup (source). While that’s not a huge amount of protein, it’s definitely better than most of the vegetables we eat. Obviously that’s not enough for it to be the main protein for your meal. If you’re eating it as your main course, you might try sneaking some protein into a different part of your meal, such as adding tofu to a rice dish or salad.  

We’ll start by show you how to cut and roast the cauliflower, then jump into some batter instructions before getting to the recipe.

Cutting & Roasting the Cauliflower

To cut the cauliflower head into florets, start by peeling off any large leaves, then cut the head of cauliflower in half, followed by quarters. Lay each quarter on a flat side, and angle your knife to cut out the core.

Once the core is removed, you should be able to break the florets apart fairly easily. The goal is to aim for one-bite to two-bite sized pieces. If you end up with any large pieces, just cut them in half.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, followed by salt and pepper. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet, placing the florets flat side down wherever applicable. I like to use a silicone baking mat underneath, since it’s much easier to clean than the pan by itself.

Bake the florets for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees. They should be slightly tender, but not too soft since they will cook a bit more in the fryer once they have been battered. Let the cauliflower cool to room temperature before moving to the next step.

The cauliflower can be roasted a day in advance if you’re going to be short on time. The batter and breading can be made in advance as well (store the batter in the fridge).

Battering the Sesame Cauliflower Wings

Use your hand or a slotted spoon to dip the cauliflower into the batter. Let the cauliflower rest for 15-20 seconds, then let the excess batter run off before transferring to the breading mixture. Coat throughly with breading mixture, then let rest for about 20 seconds and coat again.

For thicker breading, coat with breading mixture, then dip back in batter and coat with breading again.

Keeping the Sesame Cauliflower Wings Crispy

They’ll actually stay crispy longer than you would expect. The bread crumbs help keep the breading from getting soggy as quickly. If you’re serving the sesame cauliflower wings as an appetizer at a party rather than a sit down meal, I would suggest lightly brushing on a small amount of sauce, and serving additional sauce on the side for dipping. They should stay pretty fresh for up to an hour that way. I haven’t tested them any longer than that, because there are never any left!

If you’re planning on eating them right away, they are best served coated in sauce. Just place the fried cauliflower in a bowl, drizzle the sauce over top, then toss until evenly coated, adding more sauce if needed.

Ingredients & Equipment

The only specialty item on the equipment list is a fryer. You can use a pot with a thermometer instead, but I choose not to do it that way because with my glass cooktop, it can be difficult to get the oil heated to a specific temperature. If you want to purchase a fryer, the Presto Fry Daddy is an inexpensive option that doesn’t take up much space. I’ve had mine for about 7 years now and it still works great. If you want a fryer with a slightly larger capacity, they also make the Presto GranPappy.

If you don’t already have the other equipment, here are some great options for baking sheets, mixing bowls and a silicone whisk. I also find that silicone baking mats are incredibly handy for roasting veggies, in addition to being perfect for baking cookies.

All of the ingredients should be pretty easy to find at a grocery store. (Kroger even has gluten-free bread crumbs.) If you do have any trouble finding gluten-free options, or your just not sure which ones to get, try these gluten-free bread crumbs and King Arthur Flour.

Crispy Sesame Cauliflower Wings in bowl

If you make these sesame cauliflower wings, please leave a comment below to share your experience!

Crispy Sesame Cauliflower Wings

This sweet and savory cauliflower version of the Chinese restaurant classic is moderately easy to make and can me served as an appetizer or with jasmine rice.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: Asian, Dairy-free, Sesame, Vegan
Servings: 4 Servings

Equipment

  • Fryer
  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Paper towels

Ingredients

Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ Cup low sodium tamari
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tsp toasted sesame oil

Batter

  • 1 Cup unsweetened cashew milk 
  • 4 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (fresh ground works best)

Breading

  • 1 Cup gluten-free bread crumbs, Plain
  • ½ Cup gluten-free flour
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • ½ Tsp ground black pepper

Garnish

  • White sesame seeds
  • Green onion

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wait to preheat fryer until 15-20 before use.
  • Cut cauliflower into florets (the size of one or two bites). Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out on baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes or until slightly tender. Cool to room temperature.
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, whisk together tamari, maple syrup, rice vinegar, grated ginger, sweet chili sauce and toasted sesame oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Once the sauce begins to simmer, add corn starch slurry and reduce heat to medium low. Continue simmering for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools. 
  • To make the breading, whisk together bread crumbs, flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • To make the batter, whisk together the plant milk and apple cider vinegar. Let rest for 3-5 minutes before whisking in the sriracha, cornstarch and flaxseed meal. 
  • Once the fryer is preheated, dip a handful of cauliflower into the batter (do this by hand or with a slotted spoon). Let the cauliflower rest for 15-20 seconds, then let the excess batter run off before transferring to the breading mixture. Coat throughly with breading mixture, then let it rest in the breading mixture for about 20 seconds and coat again. Repeat this entire step for extra thick breading, or move on to frying the cauliflower.
  • Place breaded cauliflower in a single layer in your fryer basket (about 2 handfuls of cauliflower) and immediately place the basket in the fryer. Continue frying for about 4 minutes or until golden brown, drain the oil from thte backer, then turn the cauliflower out onto a plate over paper towels. (Depending on the size of your fryer, it should take 2 rounds the fry all of the florets.)
  • After all the cauliflower has been fried, and the paper towels have had a moment to soak up the excess oil, transfer the fried cauliflower to a large bowl and drizzle most of the sauce over top. Toss until thoroughly coated, adding more sauce if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with sliced green onions and a generous amount of white sesame seeds.

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