I’ve been attempting to recreate some version of these tacos ever since my daughter tried them at a sweet 16 party in the city a few years ago.
“You sure they were cauliflower?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said.
“You don’t like cauliflower, though.”
After a few follow up questions, I determined that they had been deep-fried to resemble popcorn shrimp, something I wasn’t interested in or capable of doing. But every few weeks, she’d say “Remember those cauliflower tacos?” not so much reminding me as daring me to replicate them at our own dinner table.
It wasn’t until recently, when I made a batch of Einat Admony’s famous cauliflower, that I realized I could achieve the same crispiness without completely deep-frying the florets. And that’s what I did. By chance I had Rodney Scott’s barbecue sauce in the fridge (see today’s newsletter for the recipe), which would serve as the ideal glaze, and that sealed the deal. Total winner. Here’s roughly how I did it:
BBQ Cauliflower Tacos
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Canola oil, poured to about a half an inch high in a large, straight-sided skillet or (better) a Dutch oven
Rodney Scott’s barbecue sauce, in today’s newsletter, (or your favorite store bought barbecue sauce)
6-8 corn tortillas, grilled or charred on a gas burner for about 10 seconds a side.
Your favorite slaw (like the one listed in this post, but swap in apple cider vinegar for the rice vinegar)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add cauliflower and boil for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice bath to stop the cooking. (Or just put it on a paper-towel lined plate, like I did.)
Combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large resealable bag. Throw in the florets, seal, and shake until thoroughly coated.
Heat the oil in you large skillet or a Dutch Oven to medium-high. Working in small batches, carefully drop florets into the oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined serving bowl.
Remove paper towel then, in a large mixing bowl, gently toss cauliflower with two or three tablespoons of barbecue sauce until the cauliflower is glistening and shiny and not gloppy.
Serve on corn tortillas topped with slaw.
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This sounds delicious! I am all in for crispy cauliflower (I especially like Buffalo Cauliflower). And you’ve reminded me of a recipe I’d bookmarked from Milk Street that uses corn starch plus high heat roasting to approximate deep frying. I haven’t tried it yet, so can’t vouch for it, but it looks promising. https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/roasted-cauliflower-tomato-tahini-cilantro-lemon
A new BBQ sauce? I’m still using the one you posted a few years ago from Franklins in Austin (just made a batch last weekend). As a transplanted Charlestonian, though, i’ll have to give this Rodney Scott version a whirl! thanks!
Any recommendations if you wanted to bake it vs. frying? Thanks!
I guess this is what I’d suggest: Instead of parboiling and dredging in flour, you can toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic salt, then blast them in the oven at 425 or 450 for 10-15 min? Then toss in sauce.