Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up by eating a bunch of little appetizers instead of a big meal all at once. Especially on Friday nights when we’re left with odds and ends in our refrigerator and we can be a little more leisurely about eating, we’ll just rustle up some small courses and nibble until we’re feeling full. Maybe some dip and veggies, some creatively re-purposed leftovers, a few dumplings I’ve stashed away in the freezer, perhaps a few crostini, a little pasta or some international fried rice. Back in our pre-kids era we used to do this kind of random, roving eating often, snacking our way through our Netflix pile or a Sopranos-watching marathon and it’s kind of nostalgic to bring the tradition back.
This David Chang cauliflower recipe was the highlight of one of our recent Friday night family nibble-fests. I’ve never been to his restaurant Ssäm Bar, but I hear this is a popular item on the menu and he says it works well with brussels sprouts in case cauliflower is not your thing. It’s basically just riff on a basic crispy, roasted cauliflower but takes thing up a notch with a killer combo of savory, tangy, bright flavors tossed together just before serving. I’ll admit that I had intended this mostly for the adults thinking the fish sauce and togarashi (Japanese chili flakes) might put the kids off, but at least one little guy ended up chowing down. Simran and I are both big proponents of not dumbing down food for kids, but sometimes I find myself censoring dishes and flavors without even really thinking about it. I’m embarrassed to say that at first I didn’t even offer any of this cauliflower to the boys but ended up with a great reminder that with kids you just never know.
David Chang’s Roasted Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
David Chang’s original recipe (you can find it here at the Splendid Table) calls for fried cilantro leaves and a cheeky little garnish of togarashi rice krispies (krispies toasted in a dry pan and then tossed with togarashi). In this version I have kept the cilantro fresh and have substituted the crunch of the krispies with store-bought fried onions, the ones that come in big jars at the Asian supermarket.
- 1 head of cauliflower (cut into florets, washed and dried very well)
- Oil for coating the baking sheet
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 garlic clove (peeled, halved, crushed)
- 1 Thai bird’s eye chile (optional)
- juice of 1 lime
- togarashi (Japanese chili flakes)
- crispy onions
- Heat your oven to 450. Lightly coat a foil-covered baking sheet with oil and let it preheat as the oven warms.
- Place washed, well-dried cauliflower florets onto the hot baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes. Check the cauliflower and toss every 5-10 minutes until it is roasted to your liking. (We usually roast for a total of 30-35 minutes. It can burn so keep an eye on it.)
- While your cauliflower is roasting, wash and dry your herbs and make the vinaigrette. For the vinaigrette whisk fish sauce; minced cilantro stems; rice wine vinegar; lime juice; sugar; and halved, crushed garlic clove; and chiles (if using). Set aside.
- When your cauliflower is roasted, place it in a serving bowl. Fish out the garlic from the vinaigrette and discard it, then pour the vinaigrette over the hot cauliflower and toss well. Mince mint and cilantro leaves and sprinkle over the dressed cauliflower along with togarashi and crispy onions. Serve immediately.