Of Kim Jongs and Cauliflower

In December of last year, I predicted 2017 was going to be the “Year of the Sandwich” on this blog. But at the rate I’m going, it’s shaping up to be Year of the Korean Food.

Speaking of Korea — and the North in particular — that fat little squirt Kim Jong Un, the Baby Leader, sure is turning out to be a provocative one. I included his father, Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, in a previous post about Korean short ribs. And as batshit crazy as that cat was, this new Kim makes him seem positively Lincolnian.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

In one of his first acts as leader, he had his favorite uncle executed. He’s been developing nuclear warheads, and has recently launched a barrage of medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. Barring the U.S. going to war with Japan — and I say that only half facetiously, given the unpredictable nature of politics and policy these days — I will be cruising those very waters with my family this summer, visiting Japan, Russia and Korea (South). Hopefully we will not get hit by one of Kim Jong Un’s errant missiles.

I digress.

During my recent illness, I made a spicy kim chee soup to speed along my recovery. In the related blog post, I also waxed poetic about some recent Korean fried chicken wings I had made, which a fellow Super Bowl guest declared the best he had ever tasted.

I was making Korean short ribs for dinner, and was thinking about vegetable side dishes. I got to wondering if I could do a similar treatment — twice-fried to a crisp, tossed in a sticky, spicy sweet sauce — to cauliflower?

I betted I could!


While the short ribs were marinating and the kim chee was, well, fermenting, I double fried the cauliflower florets, and made my sauce. At the last minute, I tossed it all together and voila! a nice vegetarian version of the best chicken wings ever.

Food in North Korea tends to be simple — and scarce (dog is a favorite delicacy). Although the Kim dynasty has been reported to have a penchant for steaks, caviar, foie gras and Bordeaux grand crus. I have no idea if Kim Jong Un eats anything like this. Perhaps if he did, he would be a nicer and happier leader.

*    *    *

Spicy crispy Korean cauliflower
serves 4

8 oz. cauliflower florets, cut into medium size chunks
2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp. corn starch
2/3 cup water
2 cups vegetable oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Korean gojujang chili paste
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. sesame oil

Mix together flour, corn starch and water into a batter. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or medium skillet. When a drop of batter sizzles and floats, the oil is ready.

Dip cauliflower florets in batter and cook in oil, five or six pieces at a time, turning once during cooking, until golden — 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Continue until all cauliflower has been fried. Keeping oil at temperature, fry a second time, beginning with your first batch. Again, drain until all are cooked.

Place on a rack in a 170-degree oven.

Blend remaining ingredient in a blender until smooth. Heat a wok or skillet over medium high and add sauce. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until sauce has reduced by about half and begins to become glazey. Remove from heat, and quickly toss in cauliflower, tossing to coat evenly with sauce.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Mar 11, 2017 @ 00:17:17

    Huh, I’m making bibimbap for a brunch here on Sunday to honor your year of Korean food I guess and it’s showing up to be the decade of child like leaders.


  2. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Mar 11, 2017 @ 01:33:39



  3. Mom
    Mar 11, 2017 @ 04:41:13

    You forgot to mention he just had his brother poisoned. Try not to look like a relative when you’re there.


  4. beneubert
    Mar 11, 2017 @ 20:20:22

    I love Korean gojujang chili paste!


  5. Michelle
    Mar 11, 2017 @ 23:49:58

    Mmmm. We had that similar broccoli dish last night. Sounds like an interesting trip. Though in the current times, who knows?


  6. Amanda
    Mar 12, 2017 @ 12:58:29

    I’ve never thought of frying cauliflower. But I love fried vegetables, and I love cauliflower – so why not! This sounds like a good one to try!


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