Quebecer Jean-Philippe Cyr — a.k.a. the Buddhist Chef — likes to fry big slabs of cauliflower, then flavour them with a mixture that includes maple syrup and cider vinegar.
Cauliflower has come into the limelight recently as a vegetable that merits more than simply steaming or immersing in a cream sauce. The Buddhist Chef — as Quebecer Jean-Philippe Cyr calls himself, his cookbook and his blog — likes to fry big slabs of cauli, then flavour them with a mixture that includes maple syrup and cider vinegar. His cauliflower steak is the cover photograph for his book (Appetite by Random House, $29.95), a collection of 100 vegan recipes.
Cyr, who lives in Joliette and is professionally trained, dots his Buddhist Chef book with tips to assure success. With the steak, he says, use an extra-firm cauli and very high heat — and don’t move the slabs around as they cook, other than simply turning them in the hot oil.
Cyr’s recipes liven up each vegetable, often with flavours he found when travelling in Asia. Mushrooms are a favourite in his book (12 recipes), as is tofu (19 recipes). Photographs by Samuel Joubert are excellent.
1/4 cup (28 g/60 mL) slivered almonds
1 medium head cauliflower (2 pounds/1 kg)
3 tablespoons (45 mL) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (25 g/125 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cider vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) red pepper flakes
1/3 cup (75 mL) white wine
Fleur de sel, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for two to three minutes. Set aside.
Cut cauliflower generously into slices 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) thick. Sprinkle all over with salt and let stand.
Heat oil in a large, heavy frying pan over high heat. When it is very hot, add cauliflower and fry for five minutes without moving it. Fry in batches if necessary. Cover to avoid splattering oil.
When slices are browned, turn and cook another five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine parsley, cider vinegar, maple syrup and red pepper flakes.
Transfer cooked cauliflower to a platter and keep warm. Add wine to pan to deglaze and simmer until almost evaporated.
Add parsley mixture to pan and cook for a few minutes, until parsley is tender.
Serve cauliflower steaks on two heated serving plates. Drizzle with the hot dressing, sprinkle with almonds and fleur de sel and serve.
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