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Crispy Orange Cauliflower with Steamed Asparagus
Looking for an easy, vegan Chinese food recipe? Look no further than this Crispy Orange Cauliflower. Lightly battered and baked cauliflower is the perfect vehicle for a tangy, sticky orange sauce. Homemade Chinese food has never been tastier!
The Pitfalls of Takeout
Chinese takeout has always been one of my greatest comforts. It’s salty, savory, sweet and tangy with some seriously satisfying fried goodness. But, as I’ve described in past posts, it does present challenges to a plant-based diet and a more environmentally conscious way of life.
For starters, as I talk about in my Asian BBQ Tofu Bowl post, ordering takeout comes with a lot of waste. There’s the greasy takeout containers, the single-serving packages of soy sauce and the plastic delivery bag. For something that’s supposed to simplify daily life, it seems to come with a lot of consequences.
Then there’s less-obvious ingredients in an order of, for example, vegetable lo mein. On the surface, it appears not to include any animal-based products. It’s noodles and vegetables, right? But many traditionally made Chinese dishes contain ingredients like fish sauce, oyster sauce and shrimp paste. To some eaters, this might not be a deal breaker. But to others, this may come as an unwelcome surprise.
Making Chinese food at home is a great way to get your fix and avoid the pitfalls of takeout. This Crispy Orange Cauliflower recipe checks all the comfort food boxes, yet it piles on the veggies and swaps out deep frying for baking.
Crispy Orange Cauliflower: Getting the Perfect Texture
Getting the perfect texture for this crispy orange cauliflower is a multi-step process. I start by steaming the cauliflower. It takes a few extra minutes, but this step ensures that each bite of cauliflower will have a soft center to complement its crispy exterior.
As for that crispy exterior, that’s baked. It’s so much healthier than deep frying. To set expectations, it’s not quite a crispy as deep-fried food. The exterior is just a touch softer. It’s every bit as good though, especially when combined with the sticky goodness of a homemade orange sauce.
Making the Sauce for the Orange Cauliflower Recipe
Homemade Chinese food always struck me as a daunting project. That was, of course, until I actually tried making it. Popular Chinese food recipes like lo mein, fried rice and orange chicken are actually really easy to adapt to a vegan diet.
Homemade orange sauce is just a simple combination of orange juice, tamari, rice vinegar and maple syrup. Garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes give it spice. The cornstarch works to thicken the sauce, giving it that delightful sticky finish that makes it so satisfying.
Adding Some Greens to this Orange Cauliflower Dish
Here’s another nice thing about homemade Chinese food — you don’t have to settle for 2-3 bites vegetables. Gone are the days of 1 piece of broccoli and a few carrot slivers. You can really enhance any Chinese food recipe you make at home by serving it with a healthy side of vegetables.
For this Crispy Orange Cauliflower Recipe, I opted for fresh steamed asparagus. Steaming vegetables is easy and it’s the best way to retain the most nutrients. To properly steam vegetables, make sure that they don’t come in contact with the cooking water. The vegetables should be loosely arranged so that there is space for the steam to circulate.
Forget Takeout! Try Making These Vegan Chinese Food Recipes at Home
Don’t under-estimate what you can do in the time it takes for a restaurant to deliver takeout to your door. Homemade Chinese food is a great way to satisfy a craving and stick to a vegan diet. If you found this Crispy Orange Cauliflower recipe enticing, be sure to check out my other homemade vegan Chinese food recipes!
Looking to satisfy a craving for takeout without picking up the phone? This curry fried rice is a quick and easy way to put a vegan meal on the table. Packed with fresh vegetables, this plant-based fried rice recipe checks every box.
Do you love PF Chang’s lettuce wraps, but wish they were vegan? Then this vegan lettuce wraps recipe is for you! I’ve dressed up these simple tofu lettuce wraps with some extra veggies for a healthier version of the original. And that dipping sauce? I’ve got you covered there too! This recipe for my tangy, salty Asian dipping sauce will have your taste buds singing!
Skip the takeout tonight and make this Roasted Cauliflower in a Sticky Lemon Sauce instead! This easy vegan recipe is simple and ranks among my favorite vegan Chinese food options. To keep this vegan dinner healthy, I roasted the cauliflower instead of frying it and tossed it in an easy lemon sauce sweetened with maple syrup instead of honey.
Forget takeout! This vegan version of vegetable lo mein is packed with vegetables & oh-so-delicious ramen noodles. In addition to a ton of veggies, I used Lotus Foods’ Organic Jade Pearl Rice Ramen Noodles™, which offer that same savory taste & pleasantly chewy sensation as the egg noodles traditionally used in lo mein recipes (but with a vegan & gluten-free friendly bonus).
Crispy Orange Cauliflower with Steamed Asparagus
Looking for an easy, vegan Chinese food recipe? Look no further than this Crispy Orange Cauliflower recipe. Lightly battered and baked cauliflower is the perfect vehicle for a tangy, sticky orange sauce. Homemade Chinese food has never been tastier!
- 2 cups dry Jasmine rice
- 2 heads cauliflower washed and cut into bite-sized florets
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp safflower oil divided
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 bunches asparagus washed and trimmed
- 1 scallion washed and sliced as optional garnishment
- sesame seeds as optional garnishment
Preheat your oven to 425º.
Prepare the rice in accordance with package directions.
Set up your steamer basket in a large pot with ~2 inches of water. The water level should be low enough that it does not come in contact with the cauliflower. Make sure that the lid to your pot fits on securely.
Bring the water in the pot to a boil and add the cauliflower to the steamer basket. Steam the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes.
While the cauliflower is steaming, combine the flour, water, salt and pepper into a large bowl. The batter should be thick, but still drip off a spoon slowly. You might need to add more water 1 tbsp at a time.
Using a basting brush, coat the bottom of your baking sheet with 1 tbsp of the safflower oil. I also like to use a silicon baking sheet for easily clean-up.
When the cauliflower is done steaming, add the cauliflower to the batter in small batches. Stir to coat. Using a wire skimmer, remove the cauliflower and allow the excess batter to drop back into the bowl. Add the battered cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet. Continue this process until all of the cauliflower is battered.
Bake the cauliflower on the middle rack. After 15 minutes, flip each piece and lightly baste with the remaining safflower oil. Bake for another 10 minutes.
While the cauliflower is baking, combine the garlic, ginger, orange juice, maple syrup, tamari, rice vinegar and red chili flakes in a small saucepan. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 tbsp of water until well combined. Add the cornstarch liquid to the sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced.
Prepare your steamer basket for the asparagus as described above. Steam the asparagus for 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
When the cauliflower has a browned crust, remove it from the oven and toss it in the orange sauce. I do this by drizzling the orange sauce over the cauliflower on the baking sheet and then gently turning the cauliflower over with a spatula until it is fully coated.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the sauce is sticky and the cauliflower is crispy. About 6-8 minutes.
Serve the cauliflower immediately over the cooked Jasmine rice and the steamed asparagus spears. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.
About Herbivore’s Kitchen
Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road.