March 12, 2022
I love eating Gobi Manchurian, a very saucy Indo Chinese dish that is traditionally made by frying large chunks of battered cauliflower. You can certainly make it that way or do as I do and bake it. Also, consider making up a batch of the sauce, saving it in a container in the fridge, and simply drizzling it over stir-fried veggies and/or noodles for a quick meal. I've been doing that more and more of late because even a touch of this sauce with veggies or drizzled over tofu is plain addictive and takes me back to visiting Delhi and begging my cousins to take me for Indo Chinese.
Baked Gobi Manchurian
1 smallish head of cauliflower, cut into 3-inch-long florets (about 5 cups)
7 cups hot, boiled water
¼ cup flour (all-purpose, rice, or quinoa)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons panko *
1. Position your rack on the second-from-the-top position in your oven. Preheat your oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or lightly spray with oil and set a
2. Pour the hot, boiled water over the cauliflower until submerged. Soak for 20 minutes. When you are ready to use it, drain the cauliflower and pat it dry.
3. In a bowl big enough to hold the cauliflower, add the flour, cornstarch, garlic salt, baking powder, and white pepper. Stir until combined.
4. Add the water and stir until you have a batter – not too thin and not too thick. If it is a little thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Add the cauliflower to the batter and gently stir until all the pieces are coated.
7. With tongs, transfer the cauliflower piece-by-piece to the baking tray with the flat side down. Sprinkle each piece with ample panko. Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs - made from crustless white bread. They can be found in most grocery stores. If you want to learn more about them click here. For a gluten-free option, this article suggests using crushed Rice Chex.
8. Place the tray in the oven and cook for a total of 40 minutes, turning the tray around in between for even cooking. Once cooked, remove the tray from the oven and set aside for cooling. Cooling is important and allows the cauliflower to set, making it easier to pull it off the parchment paper.
Make the Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red or yellow onion, cut in 8 pieces and shelled *
¼ cup green bell pepper, diced small
2-6 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and minced
8 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
1 tablespoon Szechuan sauce or Kikkoman Katsu sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons vinegar (white, rice, or apple cider)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup water, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 spring onions, green part minced (don’t use the white)
1. Heat a wide, heavy pan or ideally a wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the fresh chile and garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Be careful, the chile may release some heat and aroma once it hits the oil.
4. Add the soy sauce, Szechuan sauce, ketchup, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
5. Mix ¼ cup of the water with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Add this to the wok and stir. The mixture will thicken as it simmers.
6. Add the remaining ½ cup of water and simmer until the sauce pulls together and thickens slightly. Add the spring onion greens and stir. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a little more water.
7. Slowly fold in the baked cauliflower and serve immediately with a side of rice or noodles.
* Shelling the onion simply means once you have cut it in 8 pieces, pulling apart all the different layers rather than mincing or dicing it. This cooks the onion and softens it, but also gives you a nice mouth feel when eating the finished dish.
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