Crispy Spiced Cauliflower Steaks
This recipe, developed by 19-year-old Ella Heckert and her mother, the chef Kelsie Kerr, yields crisp cauliflower steaks with a golden crust so tender that they shatter upon first bite. Made with brown rice and tapioca flour, the incidentally gluten-free batter is delicate but unfussy. This version is spiked with fresh turmeric and garam masala spices, but consider it a blank slate and feel free to experiment with other spice combinations, too. At Kerr’s Berkeley restaurant, Standard Fare, the batter is used throughout the year to coat all sorts of other ingredients, including winter squash, eggplant and even housemade paneer, which is a perennial favorite. Try the dish with cauliflower, then make it your own — you’ll be surprised how long the crust remains crisp!
- Serves: 4 persons
- ½of 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
- 2teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1teaspoon cumin seeds
- Large pinch of ground cayenne
- 2tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus additional, as needed
- 1 ⅓cups brown- or white-rice flour (about 7 1/3 ounces)
- ⅔cup tapioca flour (about 3 2/3 ounces)
- ¼cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 2 limes)
- ¼cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon), plus additional lemon wedges, for serving
- 1tablespoon grated fresh turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric)
- 2small heads cauliflower (about 1 pound each), leaves removed, cut from top to core into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 ½to 2 cups coconut oil
- 1cup Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
- 2tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving (optional)
Step 1Line a baking sheet with a wire rack or paper towels, and set aside.
Step 2Finely grind cinnamon, coriander, fennel, peppercorns, cumin and cloves in a spice grinder, spice mill or mortar and pestle.Transfer to a bowl, and stir in cayenne and 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside.
Step 3In a large bowl, whisk both flours until combined. Whisk in lime and lemon juices, then gradually whisk in enough water until the mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter (about 1 1/3 cups). There is no gluten in either flour, so don’t worry about overmixing.
Step 4Stir in turmeric and the spice mixture. Taste, and adjust salt as needed.
Step 5Working with 1 or 2 steaks at a time, push the cauliflower steaks into the batter, turn to coat and allow to marinate for at least 3 minutes.
Step 6Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high. Add coconut oil to a depth of 1/3-inch, and heat until hot. Carefully drip a few drops of batter into the oil to test that it’s sufficiently hot. The batter should immediately sizzle and expand. Slip the steaks one at a time directly from the batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan — the steaks should never touch.
Step 7Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the steaks around the pan after 6 to 8 minutes to ensure even browning. Use a thin metal spatula to carefully flip the steaks. Continue cooking until the second sides are golden-brown and the cores are tender when pierced with a knife, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer steaks to the prepared baking sheet, and allow to drain. Season with salt. Repeat with the remaining steaks and any remaining smaller pieces of cauliflower, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent the steaks from browning too quickly.
Step 8Serve hot or reheat in an oven at 400 degrees until hot and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a shower of chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing on top.