Kung Pao Cauliflower

This has become a favourite meal in our house with us usually fighting over who gets the last piece.

Enjoy simply by itself or served with rice or steamed bok choy or as a perfect accompaniment to a main dish.

If you aren’t overly partial to spicy food, then I recommend reducing the amount of chilli flakes in the oil or removing the fresh chilli from the dish.

Kung Pao Cauliflower.jpeg

As a side dish this serves approx 4


100ml light soy sauce

50ml Chinese Rice Wine or sake (I prefer the sake flavor)

2Tbsp maple syrup or agave

Cooking Oil

1/2C groundnut oil

2 star anise

1Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns

1Tbsp chilli flakes

1Tbsp sesame oil

The rest of the ingredients

1 Cauliflower - broken into florets (approx 4cm each - try to keep them of equal size)

3 cloves of garlic, finely diced

2 red chillies, I prefer to remove the seeds, finely diced

3cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced

3-4 spring onions, finely sliced

2Tbsp unsalted chopped peanuts

2-3Tbsp chopped coriander

3Tbsp cornflour


1.     Make the marinade. Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine and maple syrup. Add the cauliflower florets, mix to coat them in the marinade and set to one side. In a separate bowl place the cornflour.

2.     Make the cooking oil. Place a pan over a high heat. Add the nut oil and once it is hot, add the star anise, the Szechuan peppercorns and the chilli flakes. Stir to combine. Keep on a high heat for thirty seconds then remove from heat. Sir in the sesame oil and leave to cool for a few minutes before straining the oil through a fine sieve.

3.     Place a pan over a high heat and add enough cooking oil to make a thin layer on the pan. While the oil is heating remove the cauliflower from the marinade and roll in the cornflour until coated. Keep the remaining marinade to one side.

4.     Fry the florets in the cooking oil, stirring continuously, until they are evenly browned and crisp. You may need to do it in 2 or 3 batches to prevent overcrowding the pan (which will lower the oil temp). Add a little more oil between batches if necessary, keep 2 tablespoons for the next step. When cooked remove the cauliflower, place on kitchen roll and set to one side

5.     Wipe the pan clean and return to a high heat. Add the remaining oil. When hot add the chilli, spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry vigorously.

6.     After a further minute, add the peanuts and most of the coriander, reserving a little for garnish. Stir for 30 seconds then add the reserved marinade, which will quickly bubble up. Cook for one minute more, stirring continuously.   Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cauliflower.

7.      Serve the Kung Pao cauliflower scattered with the remaining coriander. Enjoy!