Kung Pao Cauliflower Tacos

As a child, I remember frantically scanning Chinese food menu's, looking for the little symbol of a chili pepper to signify that the dish was spicy. As soon as I found "kung pao chicken" on the menu, I never looked any further. When I grew up and moved out on my own, I discovered a seemingly never ending scene of different Asian cuisines, but kung pao chicken will always hold a special place in my heart. 

As an omnivore, cauliflower is a go-to replacement for meat in my kitchen. I know it might sound crazy, but there's something so addictive and meat-like about roasted cauliflower. The texture is juicy and soft without being mushy, and the fluffy florets gracefully clutch onto every last morsel of seasoning. Doused in kung pao sauce and tucked inside of a warm tortilla, I knew after the first bite that it would be the perfect recipe for my first video. 

People have been telling me that I should do a video since I first started my blog. The thing is, I'm not a big fan of cooking shows, and it's hard enough just getting a recipe up every week. But this funny image of a cooking show filmed in the style of a 90's infomercial popped into my head one day, and I just couldn't get it out of my mind. 

I also used to be obsessed with infomercials. Despite having an obviously horrible product, I just found them so damn entertaining! To this day, I still find myself getting sucked into a good cheesy infomercial. While I've always found cooking shows to be a little on the dull side, the thought of combining the two concepts immediately felt right. And from that, "Cookin' with Ben" (later rebranded as Comedy Kitchen) was born. 

While it's admittedly a little rough around the edges, I am extremely proud of my first video. I managed to bring my vision to life on a non-existent budget, and had a ridiculously fun time doing it. And best of all, the recipe turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. These Kung Pao Cauliflower Tacos truly honor my childhood favorite dish, and make me feel like a kid again. My only hope is that all of you get half as much enjoyment out of this recipe and video as I got from making them for you. Enjoy...

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Kung Pao Cauliflower Tacos

Servings: 2-4

Ingredients

Kung Pao Sauce

2 tbsp sweet chili

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Tacos

1 large head cauliflower (~1 1/2 lbs), cut into bite size florets

1 medium onion, diced

1 large bell pepper, diced

1 cup thinly sliced celery

2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Tortillas, warmed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Combine all of the kung pao sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss the cauliflower with 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) of the kung pao sauce. Spread on a large parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the vegetables in a large bowl, and toss with 2 tsp of sesame oil. When the cauliflower has baked for 20 minutes, add the rest of the vegetables, and roast for another 20 minutes.

  3. Place cauliflower mix on warm tortillas. Top with reserved kung pao sauce, chopped peanuts, and sliced green onions.

Tips:

  • Ideally you want to use about 1 1/2 lbs of cauliflower for 2-4 people, so you may need to double up if your cauliflower heads are on the small side.

  • You can sub aluminum foil in for parchment paper. 

  • Feel free to use the cauliflower stems! I find them equally as delicious as the florets.

Ben Mastracco