Hot & Crispy Lemon Pepper Popcorn Cauliflower w/ Creamy Agave Mustard

img_0005Do you guys watch the show Atlanta? You know, the one made by Donald Glover? In the second or third episode of the first season, a couple of the main characters go to a wing spot in Atlanta, Georgia and order lemon pepper wings, but because the staff at the restaurant admires one of the characters so heavily, they hooked him up with extra lemon pepper seasoning.

That scene, my friends, is the inspiration for this dish. 

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“Did he really just attribute a vegan recipe to a scene from an FX television show?”
Yah, you’re damn right I did. What can I say? Inspiration comes when you least expect it – even if it’s a show about Atlanta’s underground hip-hop scene.

Since then, I haven’t been able to get over the thought of crispy, heavily breaded chicken, fresh out the fryer, tossed with fragrant & peppery seasoning. Plus, given some recent testing with fried foods, leading to discoveries on how to make thicker, sturdier, and crunchier breading, I finally felt up to the task of recreating this Southern delicacy.

“What have you found to make better breadings” you ask? Good question! I’ll tell you all about it… in a few quick bullet points.

  • Coating your food in a light layer of starch or flour before dipping it into the wet mixture gives the liquid something to hold onto. Without starch, any liquid will slip right off the surface, resulting in a coating that falls slides off of the food after it’s fried. The starch and liquid create a sort of glue that keeps the food and coating together.
  • A thick liquid mixture creates a heftier, crunchier breading. That’s why we’ve started using VeganEgg in our wet mixtures, because it’s sticky, sets up when it’s fried, and browns wonderfully.
  • As a final layer, using something with a bit of protein, such as wheat, will create a golden crust, as opposed to using straight-up starch, which will create a pale & almost rubbery crust. In this recipe, we’re using panko bread crumbs (made from wheat), which brown nicely, however, all purpose or chickpea flour also contain significant amounts of protein, thus making them effective frying fodder.
  • While it doesn’t particularly pertain to this dish, cold to room temperature food work far better in breadings like this than frozen foods do. That’s because frozen foods:
    – Are so rigid that they don’t hold onto other ingredients.
    – Remain cool on the inside by the time the outside cooks.
    – Push out excess moisture, creating an empty, airy layer between food and coating.

Now that we got the geeky stuff out of the way, are you guys ready for some crunchy, peppery, and comforting popcorn cauliflower with a side of sweet & creamy ‘honey’ mustard sauce? You’re right, of course you are! Let’s get to cookin’.

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If you like what your eyes are tasting, then share this recipe with your friends on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest at @noeggsorham! For more flame-emoji-worthy photos, geeky food talk, and mouth-watering dishes, subscribe to our email list. Tag us in a photo when you create one of our recipes at home so we can share it!

Someone alert Donald Glover – he officially has fan recipes!

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Hot & Crispy Lemon Pepper Popcorn Cauliflower w/ Creamy Agave Mustard

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Bite sized cauliflower florets are coated in paprika-cayenne panko breading, deep fried til golden brown, and served with vegan-friendly honey mustard sauce.

Ingredients

Popcorn Cauliflower

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 2-bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 c all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 c unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/4 c VeganEgg powder by Follow Your Heart
  • 2 tbsps vinegar
  • 4 tsps lemon pepper seasoning (with salt)*
  • 1/2 gallon refined oil, for frying

‘Honey’ Mustard Sauce

  • 1/4 c vegan mayo (we prefer Just Mayo)
  • 2 tbsps agave
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper

Directions

  1. Place oil in a large dutch oven or electric deep fryer and bring temperature to 350° F over high heat.
  2. Bring out 3 large mixing bowls. In one, whisk together flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (Bowl 1). In another, whisk together panko, paprika, cayenne, onion, and 2 teaspoons of salt (Bowl 3). In the third, whisk together soy milk, VeganEgg, and vinegar (Bowl 2). Set up these bowls next to the deep-fryer.
  3. Create a draining rig by placing a cooling rack upside down on top of a flipped over cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels in between. The paper towels wick away oil while the cooling rack prevents the food from getting soggy.
  4. Once oil reaches target temperature – working in four batches – place 1/4 of the cauliflower into the flour mixture and toss to coat (Bowl 1). Brush off excess flour, place in VeganEgg mixture (Bowl 2), gently toss to combine, wipe off excess, then place in panko mixture (Bowl 3). Toss until heavily coated, then drop into deep fryer.
  5. Fry until golden brown; 45-60 seconds. Use a spider tool to transfer to draining rig. In a large mixing bowl, toss first batch of drained cauliflower with 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper and serve while fresh. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for remaining cauliflower.
  6. While cauliflower fries, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Serve alongside popcorn cauliflower!
  7. Store any leftover cauliflower in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan with enough oil to coat the bottom over medium-high heat. Cook until golden brown on at least 3 sides.

*If you can’t find lemon pepper seasoning with salt, simply add a medium pinch of salt.

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