Sweet, sticky, savory, & crispy lemon cauliflower.
One of my favorite restaurants growing up was a local Chinese place just outside of Philadelphia.
We’d often go there on weeknights, because it was close to home, offered quick service, and the food was consistently good every time. Upon sitting down at the table, I’d always immediately start on the deep-friend crispy noodles and duck sauce while waiting for my order of sticky glazed lemon chicken to arrive.
(I was pretty much on a sugar high before we even got to dessert.)
Years later when my family moved to China, I remember being initially confused by the cuisine. Where were the General Tso’s, the fortune cookies, the sweet and sour? Where was the lemon chicken???
Much of what we in America know as Chinese food is not actually Chinese at all.
For example, fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco!
And in all my time living in Shanghai, not once did I ever see lemon chicken listed on a menu.
This crispy lemon cauliflower is my healthier, vegan answer to Chinese-restaurant lemon chicken.
The sticky lemon glaze is absolutely addictive; and if you’re not feeling the cauliflower, you can easily opt to pour it over chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, or anything else you think would taste good with lemon sauce.
Crispy Lemon Cauliflower
Adapted from Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Crispy Lemon Cauliflower
- 1/2 large head cauliflower
- 1/4 cup milk of choice
- 1/4 cup fine cornmeal or flour
- 1-2 tsp oil
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, regular or gf
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp powdered ginger
- 2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
- lemon zest, optional for garnish
Finely crush breadcrumbs, either in a blender (easiest method) or by placing them in a bag and crushing with a rolling pin or heavy object. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut cauliflower into florets. Whisk milk, cornmeal, and oil, then toss with the cauliflower in a large ziploc. Put the cauliflower in a colander to drain off excess batter. Toss with the breadcrumbs. Arrange in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile, make the lemon sauce by whisking together all remaining ingredients except cornstarch. Then quickly whisk in cornstarch. Turn heat to medium. Stir frequently – it thickens pretty quickly. Remove cauliflower from oven and stir into the sauce. (If you wish to omit the oil, feel free to experiment. I have not tried and so can’t say how it would affect taste/texture.)
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