Vegetarian Asian Take-Out, At Home

I’m proud to announce that I am officially a vegetarian. Well, almost. I haven’t eaten meat in about week, so I guess that counts for something. Truth is, since reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals nearly seven years ago, I’ve been failing at permanently kicking my carnivorous appetite.

Here’s a fun fact: meat is terrible. Unless of course you’re consuming naturally sourced, grass-fed, humanely raised and slaughtered animals. In that case, it’s not so bad. But for the vast majority of us (me included) we’re not. So again, meat is terrible.

Despite evidence of the many adverse health issues linked to chemically treated animal carcasses, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re so damn delicious. Not to mention extremely convenient. And while vegetarianism provides a litany of benefits, for most of us, we find the path of a plant-based diet to be flavorless.

We catapult ourselves into this green, “clean eating” lifestyle, predicated on losing weight and living right. A week later we begin to satiate our cravings for tender, blood ridden, tender juiciness with sweet, sugar-laden gooeyness, only to end up stuffing our face with a chicken’s beautifully seasoned, buttermilk fried, lifeless limb, courtesy of Purdue’s death camp. It’s tough out here for the new vegetarian.

But don’t fret. Alas, I’ve discovered (similar to Christopher Columbus’ discovery of The New World) a recipe that will help you stay on the wagon. Plus, if you’re a fan of Americanized Chinese cuisine (like I am), you’ll enjoy this more so.

Pictured below is what you’ll need:

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1 head of cauliflower (or two 10 oz. packages of cauliflower florets, because nobody has time to cut an entire head into florets)

1/2 cup coconut flour (because it has a boat load of healthy carbs and all-purpose flour is for suckas!)

2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

McCormick Perfect Pinch® Asian Seasoning (not pictured)

4 eggs

12 tbsp Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)

8 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp chili paste

2 tsp Sesame seed oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets (or open the bag of ready-cut florets, like a boss) and place in a bowl.
  3. Combine flour and seasoning (to taste) and toss florets until fully coated.
  4. Set up a dredging station: In one bowl, add Panko and in another bowl whisk eggs. Submerge cauliflower in beaten eggs, then in Panko until fully coated. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or for an entire episode of Master of None on Netflix).
  6. Combine tamari, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, chili paste and sesame seed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow the chili paste to completely dissolve into the sauce.
  7. Dip baked cauliflower in sauce, and voila!

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A few notes: If you’re really craving greasy, crunchy goodness, you can try these little darlings fried. Replace step 4 with a frying method of your choice and you’re good. Also, use safflower oil (it’s healthier). Lastly, if you must have meat, make sure it’s naturally sourced as much as possible.”Not that from concentrate shit,” as Ronnie from the movie Role Models would say. Replace the cauliflower with chicken.

You can enjoy this dish alone, or if you’re really feeling fancy, over a bed of quinoa. It’s a great alternative to fried rice. (I prefer Susie’s Asian quinoa. You can find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market. It tastes great and is ready in only 1 minute.)

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