My Crispy Baked Sweet and Sour Cauliflower is a lightened up, vegetarian dish with classic Asian flavors.
Thank you to Pure Canada Maple for sponsoring this blog post! As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
My parents cooked almost everyday when I was growing up but when we did order takeout, it was usually Chinese food. Some of our favorite dishes were chicken lo mein, fried rice, eggplant with garlic sauce, crispy shrimp with walnuts, and sweet and sour chicken. My Crispy Baked Sweet and Sour Cauliflower is reminiscent of those dishes that I loved as a kid. But my version is a lot lighter and it’s so easy to make at home!
To coat the cauliflower, I make a quick soy sauce-based sauce on the stove that I season with aromatics like ginger and garlic. My secret ingredient for the sauce? 100% pure maple syrup from Canada. It has a unique flavor that makes it perfect for use in both sweet and savory dishes like this one. It can be used as replacement for other sweeteners in a variety of desserts and baked goods, such as pies and cakes. The natural sweetener also adds depth and complexity to a wide range of entrees, and can be used as an ingredient in glazes, rubs or barbecue sauces for poultry, meat, seafood or vegetables. The rich maple flavor complements the savory Asian flavors in this sauce perfectly and it thickens it as well.
100% pure maple syrup from Canada is a natural sweetener that is derived directly from the sap of the maple tree. When consumed in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet. Pure maple syrup from Canada is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of riboflavin, at approximately 110 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. It also contains several plant compounds, or polyphenols, including one called Quebecol, that naturally forms when the sap is boiled to produce maple syrup.
Using cauliflower as the star of the dish instead of meat is a great way to incorporate more nutritious vegetables into your diet. And instead of deep-frying the florets, I bake them instead. To recreate that crispy texture, I dip the cauliflower in a simple batter and then bake them at a high temperature in the oven, flipping them halfway through.
Once the cauliflower is baked, I toss it quickly with the sauce and then put it back in the oven for a few minutes. That’s when the magic happens and the sauce caramelizes. The result is a sweet, sticky glaze that perfectly coats the florets. Yum!
Once you toss the cauliflower with the sauce, it won’t stay crispy for long so I recommend digging in right away. Alternatively, instead of tossing the cauliflower with the sauce, you can serve the sauce on the side for dipping. You can’t go wrong either way!
Crispy Baked Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk, any type
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (can use gluten-free soy sauce)
- ¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup from Canada
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Pinch chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Garnishes: Sliced scallions and sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with the olive oil.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk until a smooth batter forms. Dip the cauliflower florets into the batter until coated and shake off any excess. Place the florets on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- While cauliflower is baking, stir the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chili flakes together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir the cornstarch together with 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the sauce and cook another minute or two until thickened. Remove from heat.
- Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and toss to combine (alternatively you can serve the sauce on the side). Return the pan to the oven and cook another few minutes until the sauce starts to caramelize. Remove from oven. Serve the cauliflower on a bed of rice. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
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