Bang bang cauliflower

(serves 4)


Something happens to cauliflower when you stir-fry or roast it at high temperatures – it becomes nutty and sweet as it caramelises and seems like a different vegetable from its boiled or steamed cousins. I’ve borrowed the sauce here from bang bang chicken, a Chinese dish from Sichuan province, which has been much adulterated in the US. It should be sweet and hot, wherever it’s from.



1/2 cauliflower, cut into florets (flowerets), tender leaves (if any) reserved

1 heaped tbsp rice flour

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 small red onion

2–3cm (3/4 – 1-1/4 inch) piece of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp sesame oil

Small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves


For the bang bang sauce

2 tbsp maple syrup or agave syrup

2 tbsp Cholula or sriracha hot sauce

4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

40g (generous 1/3 cup) hazelnuts, roughly chopped

2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar

250g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) mascarpone cheese

3 tbsp Nutella

150ml (generous 1/2 cup) whipping cream

1 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

8–10 sponge fingers

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Sea salt



1. Start by making the bang bang sauce: put all the ingredients for it into a bowl and stir until fully combined. Set aside until needed.

2. Toss the cauliflower florets in the rice flour.

3. Place a wok over a high heat and add the vegetable oil. When hot, add the cauliflower florets and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the reserved cauliflower leaves (if any) and stir-fry for another 3–4 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion; peel the ginger and cut into small strips; peel and crush (mince) the garlic.

5. Place a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the sesame oil. When hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes, until soft.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bang bang sauce.

7. Pour the onion mixture into the wok and stir until the cauliflower is fully coated. Pour the cauliflower into a serving dish, sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve with boiled rice and green vegetables.