Vegan Taiwanese Popcorn Cauliflower

A vegan spin on Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken using cauliflower. Crispy and golden-brown on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.

The cauliflower, after deep-frying, is so incredibly tender. And the batter, after frying, becomes so incredibly crispy and crunchy. It is borderline addictive!


Vegan Taiwanese Popcorn Cauliflower

4 from 16 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: SnacksCuisine: TaiwaneseDifficulty: Medium
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

1

hour 
Cooking time

15

minutes

A vegan spin on Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken using cauliflower. Crispy and golden-brown on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon paprika/cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat)

  • 1 tablespoon sweet potato starch (or potato starch, corn starch)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • one bunch basil leaves

  • vegetable oil, for frying

  • Seasoning Salt
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground five-spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika/cayenne pepper

Directions

  • Prepare the Cauliflower and Seasoning Salt. First, cut the cauliflower in half and cut out bite-sized florets. In a large bowl, mix together the garlic salt, paprika/cayenne pepper, white pepper, ground ginger, soy sauce, and oat milk. Toss the cauliflower florets in the oat milk mixture. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning salt by mixing together all the seasoning salt ingredients.
  • Bread the Cauliflower. In a bowl, combine flour and sweet potato starch (the ratio is 1 cup : 1 tablespoon if you need more) and mix well. The breading process consists of a double coat, and is as follows: dip each cauliflower floret into the flour mixture, shake off excess, dip into the oat milk mixture again, shake off excess, and back into the flour mixture. Be sure to fully coat each cauliflower!
  • Fry the Cauliflower. Before you start frying, prepare a tray lined with a wire rack. In a medium-sized pot or wok, heat up some vegetable oil (the oil level should be high enough to cover 2/3 of the cauliflower florets). Check if the oil is hot enough (*see notes for a tip). Once the oil is hot enough, fry the cauliflower until they are golden-brown, and continue stirring to make sure they don’t stick together. Note: Be sure not to over-crowd the pot/wok! Fry the cauliflower in batches. Remember to take out the little batter crumbles in the oil between each batch — if you don’t do so the cauliflower will burn more easily. Once all the cauliflower are fried to a golden-brown, remove them from the oil and onto the wire rack to drain. Immediately sprinkle them with your seasoning salt.
  • Fry the Basil. Now, take your basil leaves (make sure the oil is not too hot and that the basil leaves are dry) and prepare a lid big enough to cover the whole pot. Drop the basil leaves, and immediately cover the pot with the lid — the leaves have some water content which will cause splashing when hit with hot oil. Count for 5 seconds and you can remove the lid, then take out the basil leaves. Drain together on the wire rack with the fried cauliflower.

Notes

  • Wooden Chopstick Test. This is a simple method for checking whether oil is hot enough: simply take your wooden chopstick (or other utensil) and stick it vertically into the oil. If the chopstick starts bubbling immediately, the oil is ready for frying.

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Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago

Used an airfryer instead, so I ended with a wet batter layer than the flour mixture. It turned out great – so delicious 🙂

Nicole
Nicole
1 year ago

This was delicious, I love how crispy it stayed even after it cooled! I would put a bit less 5 spice next time, the flavor was a bit overpowering and it wouldn’t dissolve properly in the mixture. Will definitely make this again!

Laura
10 months ago

I thought it was an amazing recipe. I have very little opportunity to try any Taiwanese food. Loved the bold flavors. Had fun doing a variation of your recipe with coconut milk and ground peanuts instead of flour. Great recipe I think I will try it with chicken or fish too. Thank You!

Elisa
Elisa
5 months ago

These came out great! I would advise to work with small pieces of cauliflower as the large ones can be a little raw on the center after frying. Any dip or sauce can pair well with the recipe. Will definitely be using this technique often.