Dustin Harder, author of Epic Vegan, says this about this now-classic vegan appetizer: “Cauliflower buffalo bites have swept the nation! Vegan restaurants and nonvegan restaurants alike serve them, and they’re popular among patrons far and wide. I wanted to add a touch of EPIC to these with the ‘everything coating,’ but you should feel free to epic them up yourself. Get creative!”
Recipe and photos from Epic Vegan: Wild and Over-the-Top Plant Based Recipes by Dustin Harder ©2019, Fair Winds Press (July 9, 2019), an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, reprinted by permission. Photos by Ashley Madden.
MORE ABOUT EPIC VEGAN
As a trained thespian and vegan chef, Dustin Harder brings his show-stopping skills to the kitchen with his over-the-top culinary creations in Epic Vegan (Fair Winds Press/July 9, 2019/$26.99). Taking timeless comfort food to a whole new level with over 120 nostalgic, plant-based, Instagram-worthy “stunt food” recipes, Dustin’s inspiration stemmed from the extravagant milk shake craze and the ensuing “top that” food photos that continue to flood social media feeds.
Recipes in Epic Vegan go beyond the standard comfort food fare and demonstrate how plant-based masterpieces are built from the ground up. Readers can choose to simply make the biscuits, or take it a step further with the Deep Dish Brunch Pizza with Garlicky Cheddar Biscuit Crust. Readers can also sharpen their culinary skills with the Fried Chicken ’n Waffle Benedict Sandwich. Playing with your food has never been more fun, or more epic!
And make sure to check out Dustin’s fantastically fun series of virtual vegan tours around the world on The Vegan Roadie channel.
Make sure to link to the Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing for the perfect dip to go with these beauties.
- 1 cup hot sauce
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- ¼ cup packed organic dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons Maldon or coarse sea salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal or polenta
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups seltzer water
- Canola oil or cooking spray
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
- 2 scallions, roughly chopped
- Blue Cheese Dressing, or store-bought vegan blue cheese dressing, for dipping
- To make the buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the hot sauce, butter, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the everything coating: In a small bowl, combine the garlic, onion, sesame seeds, and salt. Set aside.
- To make the cauliflower bites: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the seltzer water, whisking until well combined and a thick batter has formed.
- To cook on the stovetop: (or see baked option in Notes) In a wok or large saucepan, pour 3 inches of canola oil. Heat the oil to 350°F (175ºC) when tested with a candy thermometer or a drop of batter fries quickly and bubbles up to the top. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Working in batches, transfer half of the cauliflower florets into the batter; mix around until all the florets are fully coated. Using tongs, pick up a piece of cauliflower, allowing excess batter to drip off, and carefully transfer into the frying oil; repeat with the remaining battered pieces.
- Fry in small batches for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to the paper towel–lined plate. Repeat until all of the cauliflower is fried.
- In a large bowl, toss ¼ of the fried cauliflower bites with ¼ of the buffalo sauce and 2 teaspoons of the “everything” mixture (you get a more even coating if you do it in batches). Transfer the bites to a serving tray and repeat for the remaining bites. Sprinkle the plated cauliflower with any remaining everything coating and the scallions, if using.
- Serve with Blue Cheese Dressing on the side, for dipping.
Baked option: If you prefer to stay away from frying, coat the cauliflower with the batter as directed, making sure to remove as much excess batter as possible. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray, and bake at 450°F (230°C) for 30 minutes, flipping once, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and continue with the recipe as directed.
DUSTIN HARDER is the host and creator of the original vegan travel culinary series, The Vegan Roadie. A plant based personal chef, author, recipe developer and graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, he believes plants not only make the world a beautiful place but a tastier one as well!
A road warrior by trade, Dustin has traveled the country since 2003 as an actor in song and dance and now travels the miles educating curious minds about keeping it plant strong! Visit him at VeganRoadie.com.
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