In my book, this is one of the absolute best ways to prepare cauliflower. It's not exactly quick and easy (you have to deep fry cilantro for Pete's sake), but it's so delicious that it is all worth it. And if you compare the recipe against the other recipes in the Momofuku cookbook, it's really not all that labor intensive. Some of those recipes are complicated beyond all comprehension. But man some of them are amazing. Living in NYC where all of the restaurants are located, there is no need for me to attempt most of the recipes at home when I can just wander down to the East Village and have them in all of their glory. But some of the recipes (like this one) are definitely worth making the effort of making them at home. And like I said, this recipe is not as bad as most.
When you are roasting the cauliflower you are going to want to add some salt. I know I wanted to. Don't. It goes against everything I believe in when roasting or cooking to not add salt. But the fish sauce vinaigrette that you douse the cauliflower in after it roasts will provide more than enough salt and flavor. Cauliflower is particularly good at soaking up bold flavors. I'm not sure that the fried cilantro provides anything significant to the dish, but it sure looks cool. You already get plenty of fresh cilantro flavor from the cilantro stems. The Rice Krispies tossed in the shichimi togarashi on the other hand add flavor and texture to the cauliflower. When you combine all of the ingredients together it equals an amazing dish - you have nutty cauliflower, heat, salt, texture, acidity and the brightness of the herbs. Delicious.
Recipes after the jump!
Momofuku Roasted Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
By David Chang and Peter Meehan
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 tbsp cilantro stems, plus 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
3 tbsp mint, chopped
grapeseed or other neutral oil, as needed
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
1/2 cup puffed rice (Rice Krispies)
1/2 tsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
1/2 tsp shichimi togarashi
Combine vinaigrette, cilantro stems and mint in a bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the florets in a large mixing bowl, add a couple tablespoons of oil (enough to coat them) and toss. Spread cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet. If necessary use two baking sheets - don't overcrowd. Pop cauliflower into the oven. Roast cauliflower until browned in spots and tender, about 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat about 1 cup of oil in a small saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. The oil should be about 1/2-inch deep. Fry cilantro by the handful, for about 5-10 seconds. Remove cilantro from oil with a slotted spoon or spider. Drain on paper towels.
Toss puffed rice with grapeseed oil and shichimi togarashi. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add puffed rice. Toast, stirring occasionally, until it's aromatic and maybe a shade darker than it was, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place cauliflower in a serving bowl. Toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Top with fried cilantro and puffed rice.
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
By David Chang and Peter Meehan
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1-3 Thai chilis, thinly sliced