Polly Fried Cauli (PFC)


Cauliflower. It could be my desert island vegetable.  It would have to have a bitter fight with potatoes and avocado, but it would be able to win with its incredible shape shifting qualities. It's like the transformer of vegetables - now you see it, now you don't. I've been making fried cauliflower for a few years, waaaaaayyy before I was a vegan or vegetarian for that matter. I started off with an Indian style version, with besan flour and a spicy black mustard chutney. When I got on my No Kill Grill American diner jag, my thoughts turned to crunchy coatings packed with mystery spices. So behold, the Polly Fried Cauli. I'm going to also add a Korean style glaze that is optional if you want a sweet spicy version. If you really want to go nuts, do a half and half bucket and please 100% of diners. My friends refer to this as crack and pre order it when they are coming to dinner. 

If you are a little nervous about deep frying, then this is the time to exercise a growth mindset and push on through. Deep frying has a couple of key tricks to it. Number one: hot and clean oil. If the oil is the right temperature it will instantly seal the coating and it will be light and non greasy. Use a vegetable oil with a high smoke point like rice bran or peanut, don't use a blended or a olive, both no good for deep frying. The cauliflower is great when it is marinated, like you would tenderise a chicken with buttermilk before you make fried chicken, the same applies to your cauliflower florets. If you just want to smash those tasty suckers into your kindness hole fast, you can skip that step. If you are allergic to onion or garlic, remove these ingredients and substitute with asafoetida powder. Likewise if gluten is your enemy, use a gliuten free flour version. Ok, lets fry.


Wide mouth deep pot for frying

Slotted spoon or mesh 'spider' scoop for getting the fried cauliflower out of the pot

Large bowl for tossing in the sauce.


1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets (try and keep them kinda bite sized, but not too tiny)

2l of oil

Vegan mayo, chopped shallots and lemon wedges to serve.


2 cups almond or soy milk, soured with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to make a buttermilk style mix, salt and pepper to taste.

1 tsp maple syrup

Coating (combine the following ingredients into a flour mix to coat the cauli)

1 cup plain flour

1 cup rice flour

1 tsp flake salt

1 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp yellow mustard powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp oregano

Spicy Glaze

3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)

3 tablespoons honey (or corn or rice syrup)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger

pinch pepper


1. First, blanch the florets in rapidly boiling salted water for 5 mins then plunge into cold water and strain on absorbent paper.

2. Have your oil in a large deep pot on the stove (ideally a deep fryer but if you haven't got a wide mouth deep pan will do) and bring it to heat, you will need to work fast once you get to the frying stage.

3. Make the sauce first by combining all ingredients except sesame seeds in a pot and heating to simmering point then simmering for about 5 mins until it thickens

4. Mix up the buttermylk and soak the florets in it for a couple of hours, then drain off the marinade, reserving for the breading stage.

5. Set up a 'breading station' with a large bowl with the seasoned flour in it, and another with the buttermylk. Dip each floret in the flour, then in the mylk, then back in the flour. You should have a good even coating on each one.

6. When the oil has reached 350 degrees F, cook the caulifower in batches, careful to not overload the pan as it will drop the heat and make the PFC oily and soggy. Drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with extra salt. When everything is cooked to golden brown, then toss in the spicy sweet sauce till coated, sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped shallots and serve with lemon wedges and vegan mayo.

7. Eat, swoon, repeat.



Polly McGee