Cauliflower boring? Not in this dish! The roasted cauliflower in Sichuan (Szechuan) sesame sauce is combined with a hint of black vinegar, chili oil and spicy “numbing” Sichuan pepper. Together with fresh cucumber salad and roasted sesame seeds, this is anything but boring.
Roasted cauliflower in Sichuan sesame sauce
This is the first time I have roasted cauliflower. It takes longer than cooking, 25-30 minutes, but is worth it. The taste is soft and sweet, very different from cooked cauliflower. It can be a bit insipid in taste without a thick cream sauce or oyster sauce.
The roasted cauliflower is delicious without sauce, but with this special sesame sauce from Sichuan it is really a complete dish!
You make the sauce with:
- Chinese chili oil, ready-made or try my recipe for Sichuan chili oil
- Sichuan pepper
- Light soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- White or light brown sugar
- Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
- Chinese sesame paste, well mixed with the oil
- Peanut butter 3
- Ginger, grated and optional
Tip: make more of the Sichuan sesame sauce and store in the refrigerator. Boil noodles (or spaghetti) and vegetables. Poach a chicken fillet and pull it into strings. Stir in the sauce for a lightning-fast supper.
Vegan “Bang Bang Chicken” with Strange-flavoured sesame sauce
This recipe is a vegan version of a famous dish from Sichuan cuisine: “Bang Bang Chicken”. The chicken is poached with ginger and spring onion, then loosened with a wooden stick and pulled into thin strands by hand. Such a stick is called “bang” in Chinese.
“Bang Bang Cauliflower” sounds nice, but is not an appropriate name for my recipe since you don’t have to beat the roasted cauliflower with a stick. Fortunately, the Chinese also gave the special Sichuan sesame sauce of this dish a name: “Strange flavour”. An appropriate name for a somewhat strange combination of slightly unpleasant tastes, smells and mouthfeel. The black vinegar is not fresh acid, but smells a little musty and tastes sour. The Sichuan pepper gives a numbing mouthfeel and the chili oil makes the dish quite spicy.
Strangely enough, the Sichuan sesame sauce comes to a tasty balance by the addition of a little sweetness and the creamy and nutty sesame paste.
“The combination of soft and sweet cauliflower with the full flavour of the sauce, fresh cucumber and crunchy sesame seeds is strangely addictive.”
Chinese cucumber salad
I think fresh cucumber with this sauce is a must. You can simply cut slices or strips of a pitted cucumber, but also consider the Chinese way: we “slap” the cucumber into small pieces. Because of the uneven pieces, they better hold the sauce.
(If you now think that the Chinese call this a “Bang Bang Cucumber”: that is not the case.)
“I curious about what you think of the “Strange-flavour” roasted cauliflower in Sichuan sesame sauce!”
Roasted Cauliflower In Sichuan Sesame Sauce
Roasted cauliflower in a Sichuan sesame sauce with black vinegar and spicy “numbing” Sichuan pepper. A vegan version of the Sichuan ‘Bang Bang Chicken’
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side dish, salad, vegetables
- Method: toasting
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 small cauliflower in florets
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- Sichuan sesame sauce:
- 2 tbsp Chinese chili oil with the chili
- ⅕–1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan pepper *
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce 1
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp white or light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar) 2
- 2 tbsp Chinese sesame paste, well mixed with the oil
- 1 tbsp peanut butter 3
- 1 cm ginger, grated and optional
- Salt to taste
- 1 cucumber
- 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp white rice vinegar, optional
- 2 spring onion, minced meat
- 1 or 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- Spring onion, in thin strings or rings
- Fresh chili
- Preheat the oven to 225 ˚C
- Coat a baking plate with aluminum foil and grease lightly. If you use baking paper then you don’t have to grease it. Paper gives less caramelization though.
- Massage the oil well into the cauliflower.
- Lay the cauliflower on the baking plate. Prevent the florets from touching each other.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the cauliflower is just soft and the outside is slightly caramelized.
Mix all ingredients into a smooth sauce. Taste and adjust to taste. Set aside.
Cucumber salad :
- Wash the cucumber and cut the ends of the cucumber.
- Halve the cucumber lengthwise and place with the inside on a cutting board.
- Place a large knife on the cucumber halves. Beat the knife with your flat hand (careful!) until the cucumber halves are split in two.
- Manually break the cucumber into smaller chunks.
- Sprinkle the salt over it and drain for half an hour in a colander.
- Squeeze some extra moisture out of the cucumber.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the cucumber.
- Serve the cucumber salad and roasted cauliflower on a large dish.
- Pour the sauce over it.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, spring onion and chili.
- Roast a few tablespoons of whole grains of Sichuan pepper in a hot, dry pan until it starts to smell. This takes about 3 minutes. Grind them finely in a coffee grinder or mortar. Sieve and store the pepper in a well-sealed jar.
- Gluten-free: replace soy sauce with a gluten-free tamari. A gluten-free version of Chinese black vinegar is also available at the Asian grocery store. Read the label carefully.
- You can replace the peanut butter with another nut butter or an extra spoon of sesame paste.
Keywords: Vegan, salad, cauliflower, Sichuan, easy