Fried Cauliflower with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
According to Leah Koenig, author of Modern Jewish Cooking, “Fried cauliflower is a popular side dish in Sephardi cuisine. This version breaks from the custom of serving it simply sprinkled with salt and squeezed with a little lemon juice. Instead, the crispy florets come paired with a creamy, spicy and entirely addictive cilantro sauce. Think of it as the Jewish answer to the jalapeño popper.”
For the sauce:
- 2 cups (2 1/2 oz./80 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (8 oz./240 ml) full-fat or low-fat plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) mayonnaise
For the cauliflower:
- 2 lb. (1 kg) cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) florets
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 5 eggs
Directions:To make the sauce, in a food processor, combine the cilantro, jalapeño, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt. Season with pepper and process until combined and the mixture resembles a wet pesto, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the yogurt and mayonnaise and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
To make the cauliflower, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, make an ice bath by adding equal parts ice and water to a separate large bowl. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to the ice bath; drain again and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Don’t skimp on the drying, or the cauliflower won’t crisp properly when you fry it.
Heat 1/2 inch (12 mm) of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, and line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, turmeric, 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper in a shallow baking dish. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
Working in batches, dip the cauliflower in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip in the egg, then again in the flour. Fry, flipping once, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes total. (If the cauliflower is browning too quickly, lower the heat slightly.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain, and sprinkle lightly with a little more salt. Serve hot with the cilantro sauce on the side for dipping. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig (Chronicle Books). Copyright © 2015.