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General Tso's Cauliflower

This vegetarian spin on the take-out classic is easy to make at home.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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2 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more for frying

3 whole dried red chiles

2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for sprinkling

1 clove garlic, minced

1 strip orange zest, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons plus 3/4 cup cornstarch

2 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound cauliflower, cut into large florets or wedges (about 4 cups)

Steamed rice and orange slices, for serving


Special equipment:
a deep-fry thermometer
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the chiles, scallions, garlic and orange zest and cook, stirring, until the garlic has turned golden and the chiles brighten, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves completely and the sauce become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk the mixture into the boiling sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. Fill a large Dutch oven halfway with peanut oil and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss with the egg mixture. Sprinkle in the remaining 3/4 cup cornstarch a little bit at a time until the cauliflower is well coated.
  4. Fry the cauliflower in 3 batches; gently place the cauliflower in the hot oil and cook, keeping the pieces separated and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the oil temperature at 350 degrees F, until light brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a spider or slotted spoon and set on the prepared wire rack to drain briefly. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl while it is still hot and toss with the sauce to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving plate and top with scallions. Serve with the rice and orange slices.