Cauliflower wings are a staple in the vegan world. Not necessarily in the sense that vegans eat them every day, but in the sense that they’re a testimony that “we vegans also eat indulgent, fried bar food.” Because let’s be honest, we all have those select nights where we just want to pop into a hole-in-the-wall with our friends and order some crispy, handheld goodies. And it’s usually on nights we’re not feeling 100% coherent – but that’s part of the fun!
Say we grow up a little, and we no longer go out with groups of friends, buy too many beers, and spend money that’s in our savings, but the urge for crispy, cauliflower wings tossed in hot sauce doesn’t go away? Well, in that case, these are for you.
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve long been afraid of deep frying in my own home, because it uses a lot of oil, controlling temperature can be tricky, and if things get out of hand, your food can end up greasy. It’s just been a little too fussy for me to deal with. Albeit, after attempting to make roasted cauliflower wings several times with lackluster results, I decided to try my hand at deep frying.
Come to find out, it’s not as tedious as I imagined! I discovered that oil can be reused afterwards (therefore it’s not wasteful), temperature can be determined using an easy hack that doesn’t require a thermometer (more on that in a minute), and if the oil is hot enough, the wings won’t end up greasy! And they’re perfectly battered, pleasantly crisp, and tender with a ‘lil resistance on the inside. It’s a win-win all around.
Deep-Fry Life Hacks
- To tell the temperature of your oil without using a thermometer, simply invert the back of a wooden spoon into the oil. If bubbles start to form around the spoon within 10 seconds, your oil is ready to go. If no bubbles form or it takes 30 seconds, let your oil continue to heat up.
- Placing fried food directly on paper towels leads to greasier food as paper towels hold the oil right up against the food. To wick away excess oil without holding it against the food, place a cooling rack onto an upside down cookie sheet, with a layer of newspapers or paper towels between. This way, the food and excess oil are kept apart from one another.
- More Bubbles = Less Grease. If the temperature of oil isn’t hot enough when food enters the pot, then there won’t be enough pressure moving out of the food to keep it from being greasy. If the temperature is between 350-375° F, then there is sure to be enough pressure between the moisture in the food and the presence of the oil to keep grease out. This pressure is indicated by the presence of bubbles.
- Over Cooking = Greasier Food. Once bubbles begin to slow down, you know your food is ready to be extracted. If you leave it in there past this point, there is no longer enough moisture pushing out of the food to keep grease out, thus the grease will move in, leaving you with greasy food. No bueno!
To comfort your soul, after making a whole head’s worth of cauliflower wings – enough for 3-4 people – only 3-4 tablespoons of oil is actually absorbed. Of which, I’m willing to bet that 1 tablespoon ends up on paper towels, so only 2-3 tablespoons end up in the food. I repeat again: when done right, deep fried food is not greasy food.
Because they’ve got a kick, hand-held, and fried, these would also be a compliment to your Super Bowl menu this Sunday, if you’re into that sort of thing. For me, I just like an excuse to have cauliflower wings.
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Ryan & Kim
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings (Plant-Paradox friendly)
Tangy marinated cauliflower is dipped in cassava batter, and fried in coconut oil until lightly golden. Tossed in spicy buffalo sauce right before serving for a crispy handheld delight.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large pieces (3-4 bites per piece)
- 1 c full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Few grinds of black pepper
- 100 g (1/2 c + 2 tbsp) tapioca or arrowroot starch
- 128 g (1 c) cassava flour
- 13 oz (1 1/2 c + 2 tbsp) light coconut milk (or 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk + 1 c & 2 tbsp water)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 25-30 oz (2 jars) refined coconut oil, for frying
- In a large bowl, whisk together full-fat coconut milk, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Then toss in cauliflower pieces to coat and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through out.
- Once cauliflower is close to finished marinating, place all the coconut oil into a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Heat until bubbles form around an inserted wooden spoon or temperature reaches 350-375° F.
- Place tapioca or arrowroot starch into a medium bowl.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cassava flour, light coconut milk, salt, oregano, and onion powder.
- Note: It should be thin enough to whisk without the whisk getting clumped up but thick enough that strands slowly fall off the whisk. If it’s too thick add another tablespoon or two of coconut milk. If it’s too thin, add another tablespoon or two of cassava flour.
- Set up draining rig by placing a cooling rack upside down on top of an inverted baking sheet, with a layer of paper towels or newspaper between to wick away oil. Have nearby oil for easy extraction.
- Prepare buffalo sauce by whisking together mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tbsp of hot sauce in a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in melted buttery coconut oil until homogenous. Taste and add more hot sauce if more heat is desired.
- Have a large bowl standing by the frying rig for tossing the wings in the sauce.
- To fry the wings, remove a piece of cauliflower and wipe off excess marinate. Place in tapioca starch & stir to coat, then shake off any excess.
- Dip into cassava batter, wipe off excess, then gently set into pot of oil, holding the tip of the cauliflower in the oil for 5 seconds so that the batter has a second to firm up.
- Fry only 5-6 pieces at a time. Cook until the batter is lightly brown, stirring halfway through; about 30 seconds per side. Evacuate to cooling rack and start next batch.
- After two batches are complete, transfer to the large, empty mixing bowl and add in 1 1/2 tablespoon of buffalo sauce. Toss to coat then serve to hungry friends & family while fresh – the quicker they’re served, the crispier they’ll be.
- Repeat steps 9-12 until all pieces are battered, fried, and coated in buffalo sauce.
- Reserve leftover cauliflower marinade to use as a dipping sauce for wings & celery.
- For preservation of oil, turn off the heat as soon as frying is done. Once it’s cool, place a jar in the sink, fit a funnel on top of it, then slowly pour in the oil. Seal with a lid and use again for your next frying venture.