We gave cauliflower florets the real fried-chicken treatment, complete with pickle brine, vegan buttermilk, and a double dredge. This method has so many variations that we’re already thinking about trying—tweak some seasonings and it could be anything from buffalo style to orange “chicken.”
1 head cauliflower, broken down into florets
2 cups pickle brine
neutral oil for frying
flaky sea salt
for the vegan buttermilk:
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce (we like Crystal for this)
for the dredge mixture:
1½ cups flour (or for a gluten-free dredge mix, try ¼ cup arrowroot starch, ½ cup potato starch, and ¾ cup rice flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the florets and cook for about 5 minutes until just fork-tender (you might need to do this in a couple of batches depending on the size of your pot). Carefully lift the florets out of the pot with a slotted spoon and add to a bowl of pickle brine with some ice cubes to stop the cooking and brine the cauliflower.
2. While the cauliflower sits in the brine, prepare the vegan buttermilk. Combine the almond milk, lemon juice, and hot sauce in a Mason jar with a lid and shake vigorously—this will help it combine nicely and get fluffy and rich instead of separating. Then add the “buttermilk” to a shallow bowl. Prepare another shallow bowl with the dredge mixture.
3. Before beginning to dredge, preheat the frying oil. Pour about ½ inch of neutral frying oil into a deep heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
4. While the oil heats, dredge the cauliflower florets. First shake off any excess brine and dredge in the flour mixture. Then quickly dunk in the buttermilk, then back into the flour mixture. Repeat this with a few more florets, and when the oil is hot enough (you can test it by adding a tiny pinch of flour into the oil—if it sizzles, it’s ready), carefully place the dredged cauliflower in the oil. The florets should cook for about 5 minutes on each side. When fully golden brown on all sides, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and immediately season with a pinch of flaky salt. Working in batches, dredge the next round of cauliflower while the current ones finish cooking. Repeat until you’ve cooked all the cauliflower. Serve the finished nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce.
Originally featured in 3 Totally Vegan Comfort Food Recipes