General Tso Cauliflower & Mushrooms is my healthier take on a take out stand by. General Tso Chicken is a popular dish on Chinese restaurant buffets and take out menus.
General Tso Isn't Chinese
Did you know that General Tso chicken, is an American invention? They don't eat this stuff in China. I found some great history about this dish from this humorous answer to a Quora question on the Huffpost blog: What Is the History Behind General Tso’s Chicken?
Personally, I'm not a fan of the restaurant chicken dish. I've always just found that, for me, the texture is often dry and chewy, and the sauce cloyingly sweet. Still, though, there's always been, in the sauce, a tantalizing hint of something really good. A little bite of heat and a promising bright tartness.
I wanted to recreate that sauce for this cauliflower and mushroom dish. But lighter and without all that sweetness. However, every recipe I found had a crazy amount of sugar. So I left the sugar out completely and didn't miss it at all. I added a little bit of fish sauce for a touch of salt and flavour. And for the spice, I used sambal oelek.
What is Sambal Oelek?
Don't worry, sambal oelek is simply a chili sauce, similar to, yet different from sriracha. It's very easy to find in most grocery stores, in the Asian section. And if you can't find it, or don't want to make a special trip to buy it, go ahead and use sriracha, or any other Asian chili sauce. Your General Tso sauce will still be really good, just a tiny bit different.
Sambal oelek is a staple seasoning in Indonesian, Thai, and Malaysian dishes. It's a very simple sauce made from ground chili peppers, vinegar and salt. The name, literally means ground chilli. It's a good one to have around when you feel like trying your hand at some authentic dishes, or just for a change up. And bonus, you can toss off the words, “sambal oelek” while serving this dish, sounding all foodie and gourmet, impressing the hell out of your guests, right?
And, hey, if I can introduce you to a new ingredient once in a while without scaring you away, I'm really happy. So thank you for sticking around. (I really mean that, sincerely)
General Tso Cauliflower and Mushrooms is crazy easy, and incredibly delicious. You can have this on it's own with steamed rice or noodles, or as part of a larger menu. There won't be any leftovers.
How To Make General Tso Cauliflower & Mushrooms
A vegetarian cauliflower & mushroom dish with all the flavour of General Tso, minus the fat and sugar.
- 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek or any Asian chili sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp fish sauce*
- 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 medium cauliflower cored and cut into bite sized florets
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
Boil a large pot of water. Add cauliflower and allow to par boil 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a jar with a lid, combine stock, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal oelek, cornstarch, and fish sauce. Put lid on jar and shake well to combine.
Heat a medium skillet (cast iron works best) over medium high heat. Add peanut and sesame oil. Add mushrooms and cook, turning, until starting to brown, about 2 minutes.
Add cauliflower and cook, stirring, until brown and fork tender, about 1 minute.
Shake jar one more time, and pour sauce over cauliflower mushroom mixture.
Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and glossy, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and garnish with green onion.
Serve hot, with steamed rice or noodles
*Make this recipe vegan, by leaving out the fish sauce. Instead, taste and add salt to desired salt level, or use a vegan fish sauce, or Chinese cooking wine.