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Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower

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For much of my life, I was largely indifferent to cauliflower. It was something I might pick from a veggie tray if the carrots and cucumbers were gone.

Raw, it was Bunnicula’s broccoli, sort of crunchy and faintly bitter.

It was, I guess, okay.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

I felt similarly about steamed cauliflower. It was milder and softer. It was fine. I’d eat it if it was put in front of me, but it wasn’t the sort of thing I felt compelled to make for myself.

And then I discovered roasted cauliflower, and my relationship with the palest of brassicas was no longer indifferent.

When roasted, cauliflower, like Brussels sprouts or broccoli or kale, transforms into something caramelized and nutty with deeply browned crispy edges. It’s so much better than okay or fine. It’s wonderful.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

Since that discovery, cauliflower started making its way into my grocery basket on a regular basis. It’s lovely roasted with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, but roasted cauliflower plays so well with so many other flavors, that it seems a shame to limit it.

It’s lovely with Mediterranean flavors, like garlic and lemon and red pepper flakes, or Indian curry powders, or Middle Eastern notes like cumin and coriander.

Here, roasted cauliflower gets tossed in a sweet and spicy Korean barbecue sauce that’s usually used for Korean fried chicken. And this way it is, I think, utterly beguiling.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

The sauce comes from Saveur and it involves gochujang and soy sauce and sesame oil and rice vinegar and generous amounts of garlic and ginger. It’s salty and sweet and spicy with loads of umami.

I could, perhaps, eat the sauce on its own. It’s the sort of sauce that I might, if no one is looking, swipe from the bottom of the bowl with my finger so I can have one more taste after I’ve eaten everything it was clinging to.

But, as good as it is on its own, somehow it tastes even better paired with the silky soft center and burnished edges of the roasted cauliflower.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

It makes a fantastic side dish to something like Korean fried chicken, but it can also be bulked into a full vegetarian meal when topped with a crispy fried egg or served with cubes of yellow tofu with or without rice.

It’s the sort of preparation that doesn’t just make me want to eat my vegetables. It makes me want to devour them.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

(P.S. Looking for something else to do with that gochujang? Try this gochujang roasted Delicata squash.)

Yield: 2 servings as a main, 4 as a side

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower

Sweet and Spicy Korean Cauliflower. This addictive dish will convert the cauliflower skeptics. From Blossom to Stem | Because Delicious www.blossomtostem.net

This is one of my all time favorite ways to eat cauliflower. The sweet, spicy, salty, garlicky, gingery Korean sauce is so good with the nutty roasted cauliflower. Gochujang, a Korean red chili paste, can be found at most Asian grocery stores or online. If you wish to make this gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce and check the label on your gochujang (some contain wheat, some don’t). It is vegan if you use brown sugar or agave nectar instead of honey. You might want to double the sauce. It keeps well, and it’s delicious on chicken, eggs, tofu, and probably lots of other things as well.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, thick core and outer leaves removed, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated on a microplane or minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar
  • 2 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • neutral oil for roasting the cauliflower, such as canola or grapeseed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Add the garlic, ginger, gochujang, soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey or brown sugar to the bowl of a food processor (or blender or stick blender) and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower with neutral oil to coat it. Spread it out in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt (use restraint here, you want to season the vegetable, but there’s plenty of saltiness in the sauce).
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until deeply browned. Toss with the sauce in a large bowl. Top with scallions.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 961mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 7gSugar: 13gProtein: 7g
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Rebecca

Thursday 22nd of October 2020

Ohhh this looks delicious! Would it work to do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower? Same roasting time? Can’t wait to try it!

Mary Kasprzak

Thursday 22nd of October 2020

Yep!

Suzette

Monday 20th of April 2020

I’ve been in love with roasted cauliflower for years and will definitely add this recipe to my list of all the many ways to prepare it. BUT, I’m now in love with the bowl you used in your photo! Any chance to know where you got it/a.k.a. How can I find them now?? Thanks!

Mary Kasprzak

Monday 20th of April 2020

Thanks, Suzette! I love that bowl. I got it at Anthropologie years ago (maybe 2013?). They don't carry these same bowls anymore. But Anthro has beautiful housewares and you might find something similar.

Medora

Tuesday 8th of January 2019

Love this recipe! I found it whilst playing a game. Then I lost it. I kept thinking it was Korean Fried Cauliflower so it took a week to find it. I was

So happy when I found it. I have now printed it out, shared on Facebook and put it on a recipe card. The only thing I changed was I added MSG ( no it is not bad for you).

Ivy

Tuesday 10th of April 2018

This was great! I kept seeing recipes for Siracha cauliflower. When I found gluten free Gochujang at Trader Joes I really wanted to change it up. I sort of dream-googled what I would want in my roasted Korean cauliflower and got your recipe. Fantastic!

Ellen

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

I made this recipe for my Korean husband, and he loved it! So glad I found your recipe!

Mary

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Thanks, Ellen! I'm so glad you liked it.