Cauliflower popcorn

Posted on January 2, 2014

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I hope you had a fantastic close to 2013 and a wonderful start to the new year. Mine was surrounded by good friends and good food. It is incredibly self indulgent to praise my own food, but you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that my guests gobbled these up with glee. And surely if ever there was a sign of good food, it is the sight of it disappearing quickly! These golden morsels of deep fried cauliflower florets, aka. cauliflower popcorn, are an absolute treat. Naughty enough to whet your appetite and just healthy enough to trick you into continually munching. The perfect oxymoron – a healthy junk food.

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While nothing would please me more than to claim cauliflower popcorn as my own invention, it would be a lie. I first sampled it at Dig a Pony (14/58 Ballarat Street, Yarraville VIC), a venue I would highly recommend by the way. I had actually overlooked it on the menu because I regarded cauliflower as ‘inferior broccoli’ – oh how wrong I can be. I’ll be ever grateful that my friend had the foresight to order this dish because I will never look down at a cauliflower again. Such is the power of a good dish, it can change your preconceptions! (Photo below courtesy of a friend)

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Obviously if a dish had that much affect on me, I needed to master it. Rest assured that my friend has also been providing gentle reminders of this. So here is my recreation, and I even mimicked the original presentation! Without having access to the original Dig a Pony recipe, I think this is a pretty good approximation. It is a pretty basic recipe; just crumbed and then deep fried cauliflower florets. Corn flour was used to dust the florets because it yields a lighter result than regular plain flour. If you don’t have any on hand, any other fine milled flour such as rice flour or potato starch would also work well. The crumbing mixture has been seasoned and flavoured slightly. The original dish had a herbed crumb and was served with aioli, but I’ve chosen to use a spice and went with a chilli mayo as my sauce of preference. If you decide to forgo a dipping sauce, I would suggest doubling the amount of salt in the below recipe.

RECIPE – Cauliflower popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Cut cauliflower into individual florets, it’s ok if they’re in different shapes and sizes. Wash and drain.IMG-20140102-WA0008
  2. Steam cauliflower florets on medium to high heat for ~2-3 minutes, until the cauliflower is about 70% cooked through. Allow florets to cool to room temperature.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooling, prepare your crumbing station. Place corn flour in one bowl, have a separate bowl for the beaten eggs and in the last bowl combine breadcrumbs, salt and paprika.IMG-20140102-WA0001
  4. Once the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, dust the florets with corn flour, dip into beaten eggs then coat with a layer of seasoned breadcrumbs.cauliflowerpopcorn
  5. When all the florets have been crumbed, prepare a pot of hot oil for deep frying. To check if the oil is ready to use, stick a wooden chopstick into the oil. The oil is ready for use when small bubbles form around the chopstick.
  6. Place a handful of crumbed florets into the hot oil for just under a minute or until they are golden. Try not to overcrowd the pot, I cooked these in a few batches. Once cooked, remove florets and drain off any excess oil on paper towels. Repeat process until all florets are cooked.IMG-20140102-WA0005
  7. Best enjoyed immediately. Serve with lemon wedges and a side of mayo for dipping. (I used spicy mayo; just a simple mixture of Sriracha chilli sauce and Kewpie mayo to taste.)IMG_7974

You can be sure I’ll be making these again. They are so easy to make and even more satisfying to eat. May 2014 continue to be filled with many more tasty treats to come!

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