I had just finished planning a three-course vegan dinner for some visiting customers. My goal was to demonstrate CVap® versatility with contemporary applications and menu trends. I had decided on a menu that included the following:
- First Course – Southern fried chicken boa with kimchi
- Second Course – Moroccan grilled lamb loin with Tzatziki and quinoa tabouleh
- Dessert – Molten chocolate cake with Chantilly cream
I was pleased with the ethnic diversity represented by the meal, as well as the variety of CVap and Collectramatic® applications. With the menu in hand, I began organizing my ingredient list and production schedule. About 30 minutes into my planning (and two days before the meal), I received a note that one of our guests was vegan. What?! How was I going to make the above menu vegan? I certainly wasn’t going to offer only salad and tofu! So I set my mental wheels in motion and this is what I came up with:
- First Course – Southern fried cauliflower bao with kimchi
- Second Course – Moroccan grilled beets with quinoa tabouleh
- Dessert – Silken tofu Tzatziki vegan double-chocolate pistachio cake with whipped spiced coconut cream
Hurdles to Overcome
- Making the kimchi without fish sauce, where do you get the umami?
- Getting cauliflower to emulate the look and feel of a fried chicken thigh.
- How to get tender beets without turning them to mush…
- Whipped coconut cream?
With a little help from Alex Talbot and J Kenji Lopez-Alt and a lot of help from CVap, I think we did pretty well. Here are a few pictures from our luncheon and the recipe for the Southern Fried Cauliflower. If you’d like the rest of the recipes send me a note and I’d be glad to share.
Brine Recipe for Cauliflower:
- Cold water – 3 liters
- Kosher salt – ¾ cup
- Sugar – ¾ cup
- Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce – ¼ cup
- Celery – 2 stalks (thinly sliced)
- Sweet onion – ½ (small) sliced
- Garlic cloves – 6 (smashed)
- Bay leaves – 4
- Peppercorns – 10 cloves
- Ice – 1 liter
Directions: Place all ingredients (except ice) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add ice. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
- Cauliflower – 2 heads, cut into 2-inch thick steaks and then quartered
- Savory brine – 1/2 cup
- Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce
Directions: Place cauliflower pieces in sous vide bags, cover with prepared brine, add soy, and vacuum seal. Place in CVap set at 185°F Vapor temp / 185°F Air temp. Cook for one hour. Immediately place in water bath to cool, and then place in refrigerator until you are ready to fry the cauliflower.
Breading and Frying:
- 2 cups of your favorite breading
- ½ cup brine
Dust cauliflower with breading, dip in brine, then bread lightly with breading mix. Drop into a Collectramatic fryer set on open fry 350°F for three and half minutes. Voila! Vegan fried “chicken”!