General Tso-style cauliflower bowls offer a vegetarian version of your favorite take-out dinner. Sweet, spicy, and full of Asian flavor, it’s a meat-free option for those nights when you want something much better than leftovers.
Adapted from Cassy Joy Garcia | Cook Once Dinner Fix | Simon & Schuster, 2021
This dinner will leave you with a love-of-cauliflower vow renewal. You won’t be bored by this dish, and I bet you’ll find yourself craving it often.–Cassy Joy Garcia
WHAT IS GENERAL TSO-STYLE?
General Zuo Zongtang (romanized to Tso Tsung-T’ang, among others) was a Chinese military leader in the 1800s. Who, oddly, had nothing to do with the dish named after him and probably never ate anything like it. That aside, the dish is incredibly popular, no matter how you pronounce it.
There are quite a few stories about the origin of the dish and we don’t have an answer for where it really really, originated. What General Tso means traditionally, in relation to food, is this–breaded chicken in a sauce of rice wine, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chiles, and garlic. The sauce is known to be sweet and not super-spicy, this version is just slathered on cauliflower instead of chicken.
General Tso-Style Cauliflower Bowls
- 2 medium (2 pounds total) heads cauliflower cut into florets
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz) uncooked white rice rinsed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade chile garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (sliced on an angle) for garnish
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400ºF (205ºC).
- Toss cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil, then divide between two rimmed baking sheets, arranging in an even layer, sprinkle with salt. Roast until tops of florets start to brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook rice according to package instructions.
- In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, warm remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chile garlic sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, cornstarch, and broth and whisk until well combined and smooth. Simmer until sauce thickens, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add roasted cauliflower to the skillet with the sauce. Toss to combine, then remove from heat.
- Serve cauliflower over rice, garnished with scallions and sesame seeds.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These General Tso-style cauliflower bowls weren’t complicated, did not take uncommon ingredients, did not take too terribly long to make, and delivered a dish that was absolutely delicious.
Nice, sharp pop from the General Tso’s sauce well balanced by the creamy roasted cauliflower. You almost didn’t need the rice but it was good to have because it soaked up more of that wonderful sauce.
As a former vegetarian, I adore meatless meals, and this General Tso-style cauliflower is addictive. The sauce is a perfect blend of sweet and tangy on the caramelized roasted cauliflower. The scallions add a bright and crunchy note and the sesame seeds add a bit of texture. This will definitely be on high rotation as it comes together very easily. Better than take-out!
We love cauliflower in its many forms and it’s been fun to see all the ways in which people have become creative with cauliflower in the last few years. The General Tso sauce for the recipe is good and comes together quickly while the cauliflower is roasting in the oven.
I wasn’t sure how this recipe would come out–cauliflower? It is surprisingly great! These General Tso-style cauliflower bowls satisfy that Chinese takeout craving. It’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and you know it’s healthy. I would personally reduce the amount of honey in the sauce by just a little and add some red pepper flakes if you like things spicy.
Originally published September 25, 2021
Delicious! Vegetarians and non-vegetarians will love these General Tso-style cauliflower bowls! It was really fast to throw together and the method was incredibly easy. The sauce will definitely be my go-to for General Tso from now on.
I served this with some cut-up chicken breasts (which I mixed into my bowl) and I absolutely loved it (personally, a meal isn’t complete without a protein source). To keep it vegetarian, I think some cubed tofu would be an awesome addition.