Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness. Welcome to KFC.
I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment. Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver. I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love. (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed) We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places! Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out. We went twice. This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too. Once we got home I went on the search. There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of. Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it. The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.
(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)
1 head cauliflower
green onions (for garnish)
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets. Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.
To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup. (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.
Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.
Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.
If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying. If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!
Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.
Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour. Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off. Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat. Place on plate. Repeat until all florets have been coated.
In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil. Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together. You don’t want either to happen! Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.
In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly. Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.
Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.
Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it? You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon. (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)