The Zamzows Table: General Tso's Cauliflower & Vegetable Stir Fry
I was a very picky eater as a child. When I speak to my family about the food I make, they are constantly amazed that I did a complete 180 turn when it comes to food. Cauliflower was a food item that never would have made the list of acceptable foods I would have tried as a kid. Even as a young adult, it was met with hesitancy. As I challenged myself to cook with more vegetables as the highlight of my meals, cauliflower became a standout winner in versatility and flavor.
This recipe started as a General Tso's chicken meal. Over time and with more experience, cauliflower was an easy substitute. Now, even the non-vegetarians in my family prefer this alternative.
Ingredients from the garden:
- One large head of cauliflower
- Half a head of green cabbage
- Two bell peppers - I prefer red and yellow, but any will work
- Three to four cloves of garlic
- Half an onion - I prefer yellow, but I'm sure a red onion would be great
- Four to five green onions
- Three eggs - if you or a friend raise backyard chickens
Ingredients from the store:
- Fortune stir-fry noodles - You can find these in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores near the produce section. One package comes with three packs inside. I usually use all three.
- One tablespoon of garlic chili paste
- Half a cup of soy sauce
- Two tablespoons of mirin rice cooking wine
- Two tablespoons of hoisin sauce
- One tablespoon of rice vinegar
- Two tablespoons of white or brown sugar
- One cup of cornstarch - One tablespoon set aside
- Half a cup of water
- Two cups of vegetable oil for cooking
- Sesame seeds for topping
- Salt to taste
- Roughly cut your cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Set aside in a large mixing bowl or high-sided pan.
- Thinly slice your onion.
- Julienne your peppers.
- Mince garlic.
- Remove the core and shred your cabbage.
- Thinly chop your green onions.
Prep your General Tso sauce:
- Add soy sauce, chili garlic paste, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar, and hoisin sauce to a medium-sized saucepan and whisk to incorporate.
- Set the saucepan over high heat on the stovetop.
- Add one tablespoon of cornstarch to half a cup of water and stir until completely incorporated.
- Once your sauce begins to boil, add your cornstarch and water.
- Gently whisk the sauce as it comes back up to a boil. Once it thickens, remove it from heat and allow it to cool.
- Once cool, add salt to taste. If it gets too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time, whisking again until desired thickness. Set aside on the stovetop at the lowest heat to keep warm.
- Set oven to warm.
- Set a deep-sided pan over medium heat. Add vegetable oil for frying.
- In a separate bowl, add three eggs and scramble.
- Pour eggs over your cauliflower. Using a rubber spatula, mix to coat. I used a high-sided pan the last time and found it to be a much easier task.
- Sprinkle the remaining cornstarch over the egg-coated cauliflower and mix to coat.
- Once the oil is heated, fry the battered cauliflower in batches until golden brown.
- Use a slotted frying spoon to remove the cauliflower to a paper towel-lined tray.
- After all your cauliflower is done frying, move the tray to your warmed oven.
Prepare stir fry:
- Prep noodles per the package instructions.*
- Set a pan over medium heat and carefully use a ladle to transfer some oil from frying the cauliflower into this pan.
- Once the oil has warmed, add your peppers and onions. Fry for two to three minutes until tender.
- Add cabbage and incorporate. Fry for about a minute.**
- Add noodles and incorporate them into the veggies. Fry for an additional two to three minutes.
- Add garlic and incorporate.
- Remove stir fry from heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of your General Tso's sauce and incorporate.
Sauce the cauliflower:
- Remove cauliflower from the oven.
- Pour the remaining General Tso sauce over the cauliflower. Use a rubber spatula to coat all your cauliflower.
Plating and service:
Our family likes to eat this meal from bowls. I will start by adding the stir fry to the bowl, being sure to get plenty of those yummy veggies. I will then top it with a big spoonful of cauliflower, green onions, and sesame seeds. If you like a little heat, drizzle a little sriracha over the top and enjoy!
*These noodles will come with some flavoring packs that aren't needed for this recipe. I think they are too salty and don't like to use them for anything, so I throw them away.
**Don't fry the cabbage for very long. If it's cooked for too long, it loses color and becomes wilted. Cooking for a shorter amount of time gives them a nice crunch.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, I find it an easy-to-prepare and delicious meal, especially for weeknights. You can easily substitute the cauliflower for small cuts of chicken without changing anything else if you want added protein. If I am feeling ambitious, rather than cauliflower, I will make vegetable egg rolls and cream cheese rangoons! If you find the sauce too bitter, add a little more sugar and hoisin sauce. If you make this meal, please share it with us on social media, and let us know what you thought.
Recipe and personal anecdotes provided by Nolan Guthrie.