My sister emailed me recently asking if I know of a restaurant that makes good amazing vegan cauliflower wings since she has a friend in the foodservice industry who’s looking for a supplier. I told her I’ve never tried them before but would put this on my ‘make it’ list. Admittedly I’ve missed the boat on this 2017 trend ☺ but better late than never, right? Like most foodies, I discovered the merits of cauliflower as an unassuming gem ingredient last year. Whether it’s baked, toasted, or ‘riced’, cauliflower’s delicate nutty-like flavour and creamy texture makes it incredibly versatile. In this case baked cauliflower paired with BBQ sauce had me excited and challenged to develop crispy, pub-style Cauliflower Wings with Sweet Heat Sauce.
Truth be told this recipe took a few tries to reach our ‘wow’ threshold. Along the way I learned a few valuable lessons. For the batter mixture chickpea flour (vs. all-purpose flour) and almond milk (vs. soy milk) produces superior results. In order to create a batter with that just-right consistency – runny enough to stick to the cauliflower but not too thick so it doesn’t clump – you need to whisk like you mean it. Throw some muscle behind that arm and whisk vigorously, lol. You want the sautéed garlic-onion mixture and the liquids to combine into a smooth, creamy batter. When it comes to the breading mixture there is no substitute for Panko breadcrumbs. I’ve tried using a mix of regular breadcrumbs, Panko and/or corn starch and using Panko only produces a crispy exterior that’s unmatched to the others. What’s most important is that your breading mixture stays dry, which is why I recommend dividing the Panko, smoked paprika and salt mixture into three separate bowls. As you use up the coating mixture in each bowl you can move onto the next bowl without having to settle for soggy breadcrumbs 😉.
When it comes to wing sauce the options are infinite 🤪. Don’t get me wrong choice is a good thing but it definitely had me scratching my head on what the ‘best’ variety of sauce would be for this recipe. I experimented with a few different varieties from smoky to spicy but in the end the whole family loved this Sweet Heat Wing Sauce with subtle sweetness and a kick of heat (but not bad-ass heat, lol). Be sure to coat the florets in PLENTY of sauce to get an authentic pub-style ‘wing’ experience.
- 1/Combine the breading ingredients; divide into three shallow mixing/prep bowls
- 2/Prepare one batch of Dipping Sauce (see Recipe Notes)
- 2/Preheat oven to 450F
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (I used a 1 kg head before trimming)
- Olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves or 2 Russian garlic cloves (10g)
- 1/2 small onion, halved (30g)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (20g)
- 1/2 cup almond milk (120g)
- 1/2 cup water (120g)
- 2 Tbsp chickpea flour (20g)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (78g)
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika (Note: For added kick, add 1 tsp chili flakes)
- 1.5 tsp Himalayan pink salt (5g)
- 1/Add garlic and onion to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- 2/Add olive oil. Sauté 3 min/120C/Speed 1. Once sautéed Blend 30 sec/Speed 6. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to collect the garlic-onion mixture at the base of the bowl.
Note: Insert the butterfly whisk attachment to your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 3.
- 3/Add almond milk, water and flour to the TM bowl. Whisk 45 sec/Speed 3. Transfer the mixture from the Thermomix mixing bowl to a mixing/prep bowl.
Note: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 4.
- 4/Toss cauliflower florets in milk-flour batter (shake off excess). Dip soaked florets into the breadcrumb mixture, one at a time for consistent coating (Note: The breading mixture should be divided into three separate prep bowls to prevent the breading mixture from getting soggy. You want the breaded florets to go in the oven dry). Transfer to a parchment-paper lined baking tray.
- 5/Drizzle breaded florets with a scant amount of olive oil. Bake at 450F for 25 minutes. While baking, prepare one batch of Sweet Heat Wing Sauce (see Recipe Notes below)
- 6/Drizzle wing sauce over baked florets. Return to oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until blackened (the darker the better!)
Sweet Heat Wing Sauce Ingredients:
- 2 garlic cloves or 1 Russian garlic clove, peeled (5g)
- 1/3 cup vegan butter
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (20g)
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (25g)
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar (25g)
- 2/3 cup tomato sauce (160g)
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce (5g)
- 1/4 tsp guar gum (<5g)
Sweet Heat Wing Sauce Instructions:
- 1/Add garlic to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- 2/Add vegan butter to the TM bowl. Cook 1 min/100C/Speed 1 (to melt). Sauté 3 min/120C/Speed 1 (to melt the butter). Note: Insert the butterfly whisk attachment to your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 3.
- 3/Add Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar to the TM bowl. Simmer 2 min/75C/Speed 3.
- 4/Add tomato sauce, sriracha sauce and guar gum to the TM bowl. Blend 25 sec/Speed 3.5. Note: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from your Thermomix mixing blade before emptying the sauce from the mixing bowl.
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).