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going back to cauli

Recipe: cauliflower karaage

We’re in the middle of our sixth week of self-isolation and no one has gone off the deep end yet. Colorado’s governor recommended wearing face masks in public places a few weeks back, so I consulted with my mother-in-law on patterns (she and her quilting pals have been sewing a bazillion to donate to health care workers!) and sewed a couple for us. Because elastic and other materials for making masks are in short supply right now, I made due with what scraps of elastic and pipe cleaners I had. The Olson mask pattern ( took me forever on the first two, because I’m a shitty sewist and I had to learn what various terms and techniques were, and discover parts of my sewing machine I never knew existed. Jeremy’s mom said sewing in progressive assembly is much faster and my next ten definitely went faster. Then I tried a modified version of a pleated mask (second version here: which I think I like better. I plan to make a mashup of the two designs to optimize fit and fabric use.

my first two olson masks with nose pieces and filter pockets

my next ten to donate or exchange for a donation to the recipient’s local food bank

pleated version (with nose pieces and filter pockets)

Our neck of the woods has enjoyed a string of cold, snowy storms between stretches of gorgeous sunny days. Instead of wishing for more powder days or wishing for clear trails, we roll with it and try to enjoy whatever the atmosphere has to offer. It’s wonderful. All of our skiing is human-powered these days and I am loving it.

deliciously snowy views under a bright spring sun

skinning up through the trees

neva and yuki love barreling through the deep snow

powder day wrestlemania

Our new backpacking tent arrived in the mail this week and we set it up in the living room for a trial run (to make extra sure we want to hike into the backcountry with Wingus and Dingus and sleep in a confined space with them). It’s spacious enough to fit all of us in theory, but in practice we are going to have to tell the dogs where to sleep. Our overnight resulted in Yuki hogging the center of the tent and Neva restlessly resettling herself all night on our legs because she was too scared to snuggle up against Yuki. We’ll figure it out!

curious pups

they decided they liked it well enough

At the start of the shelter-at-home order, we went to town for groceries once a week. None of the stores had established good protocols yet. We found it quite stressful to wait in crowded lines next to people who were coughing and close-talking and acting like everything was fine. Businesses eventually implemented good practices (some faster than others) to streamline the process while we quickly figured out how to reduce to bi-monthly trips. Aside from planning our menu and having a good inventory of our food, I use the more perishable produce the first week, and prepare produce that has a longer shelf life (in the refrigerator or in the dark, cool basement) for the second week. Sometimes cooking vegetables that are on their way out will buy you a few more days in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower, like most vegetables in the Brassica family, can last in the refrigerator for more than a week. Sometimes it will start to get light brown spots, but those are fine. You can scrape or cut the brown parts off, or eat them. The browning is due to oxidation. If the spots turn dark or black and the flesh becomes soft, you are looking at rot. For small sections, cut them away. If the entire head or floret has succumbed, then it’s time to send the cauliflower into the compost. But let’s say your cauliflower is just fine. There are so many ways to enjoy this nutritious and high-fiber vegetable. I recently tried it as karaage cauliflower.

potato starch, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, sugar, sake, and soy sauce

This is the same recipe that I use for chicken karaage but without the honey sriracha sauce. I really love the subtle nutty-earthy-slightly-bitter-and-sweet flavor of cauliflower and didn’t want to mask or overpower it with sriracha. I wasn’t convinced that the marinade would come through, but it does so nicely. To make the recipe gluten-free, just substitute tamari for the soy sauce.

grate the fresh ginger

stir the soy sauce, sake, and sugar with the ginger

toss with the cauliflower and marinate for 30 minutes

While the cauliflower marinates, get your frying setup ready. To this day I refuse to buy a deep fryer, so I pour canola oil into a stock pot and check the temperature periodically. A splatter screen reduces the amount of oil being sputtered about, and a spider strainer makes extraction of hot fried things a breeze. I highly recommend both.

When ready to fry, coat the florets in potato starch and shake off any excess. Working in batches, carefully drop a dozen or so of the coated pieces into the hot oil. They usually brown after 2 minutes at which point I give them a quick flip with the spider strainer (long chopsticks also work if you’re adroit with them) and let them fry for another 2 minutes until golden. Scoop them out onto paper towels to drain.

cost the cauliflower in potato starch


ready when golden


Cauliflower karaage is as satisfying to eat as chicken karaage. The outer crispness of the coating contrasts with a soft, yielding interior. I wasn’t sure how the marinade flavors would come through, but they work well with the cauliflower. Enjoy this as an appetizer or in a rice bowl with other goodies like sautéed greens, pickled ginger, avocado, Japanese cucumber salad, teriyaki protein. It makes a great main and is way easier to prepare than chicken. If you want something for meatless Mondays or are trying to reduce your meat consumption or need to consume more vegetables, I enthusiastically encourage you to try this.

serve on shredded cabbage with lemon

to share or not to share

and it’s good for you

Cauliflower Karaage
[print recipe]

1 lb. cauliflower florets
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
2 tbsps soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free)
1 tbsp sake
2 tsps sugar
1/3 – 1/2 cup potato starch

Trim any large florets down to bite size (or 2-bite size) pieces. Mix ginger, garlic, soy sauce (tamari if making gluten-free), sake, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Toss with the cauliflower florets and let marinate for 30 minutes. Heat at least an inch of vegetable or other flavorless oil in a large pot to 360°F. Coat each piece of cauliflower in potato starch. Fry several pieces at a time for about 2 minutes, flip the pieces and fry another 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the cauliflower is fried. Serve with a slice of lemon. Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or side. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container when cooled. To reheat, warm in a moderate (350°F) oven for 5-10 minutes until outer coating is crisped.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

honey sriracha japanese fried chicken karaage shrimp tatsuta-age roasted cauliflower salad miso roasted cauliflower

13 nibbles at “going back to cauli”

  1. Jessica says:

    This looks so good. I have a couple of questions about substitutions…
    For the sake can I use Chinese rice wine?
    Also do not have potato starch. Could it be substituted for rice flour or arrowroot or corn starch?
    Thank you so much for your recipes, and beautiful pictures. Neva and Yuki always bring a smile.

  2. Karen Whipple says:

    Your post is a bright spot in this crazy time. The cauliflower looks like something I will try. Thank you.

  3. Donna Mutchler says:

    Thank you so much for this post, it has brightened my day. As a healthcare professional, I thank you for making masks. Despite what some individuals claim, we are still reusing PPE because it is still in very short supply.
    The cauliflower looks delicious and I still have half a head left, I might just use that recipe tonight.

  4. Jill Hyde says:

    Just love seeing your pack playing in the snow! Cauliflower looks delicious! And you have some of the prettiest masks around. Does the peak at the nose help with glasses steaming? That’s the annoying part of a mask! Stay well, xo jill

  5. jenyu says:

    Jessica – I haven’t tried it with Chinese rice wine, but some sites say it’s a decent substitute while others say they are quite different. For such a small amount, it is probably fine. As for potato starch, I think cornstarch will be fine, although it will fry a little differently. Hope it works out! I know it’s hard to find specific ingredients right now xo

    Karen – Thank you!

    Donna – Thank you for working and caring for others! I have elastic and pipe cleaners on order and will hopefully donate many more masks xo

    Jill – The peak has a sleeve on the other side for fitting a wire or pipe cleaner. This allows the wearer to mold the nose piece to their nose bridge and also stays tucked under glasses to reduce fogging. I find it makes a lot of difference in the fit.

  6. Mary Karen Euler says:

    Thank you for your sweet posting, Jen. Am so glad that you’re able to get out and enjoy all that snow we got last week! Will try the cauliflower…though I’m thinking they look a little like glazed donut holes?! Guess it’s time for that morning coffee and a sweet roll!! ;-)

  7. Lindsay says:

    Oh, my heart stopped just a little when scrolling through this post. The bottom mask in the picture of the pleated mask, the purple and blue one below the chili peppers, is a fabric I see every day but also feel like I haven’t seen in years. It was a favorite of my mother who died of breast cancer almost 15 years ago. She used it on several pillows that my now 3.5-year-old son sleeps with every night, but is on so many of her projects that I hope are still out in the world.

    Whew, a good cry and spending some time with familiar companion grief with a side of heart-stopping joy is kind of a lovely way to start the day.

  8. hungry dog says:

    This looks great, Jen. Glad to hear you’re doing alright. Stay safe and healthy! xoxo

  9. Lisa says:

    Glad you all are doing well.

  10. K says:

    Nice job on the masks! Beautiful fabrics… Stay well.

  11. Leslie says:

    This was delicious! We had with sauteed spinach, rice and dumplings and used the same dipping sauce for karaage as dumplings. I subbed dry vermouth because out of sherry and Chinese wine – worked fine. This will definitely be in regular rotation for a treat!

  12. E. Thai says:

    You are so talented. The masks are beautifully done. Cauliflower looks great too.

  13. jenyu says:

    MK – You know, I can see where they’d look like donut holes! ;)

    Lindsay – How sweet! My MIL gave me that fabric. It’s lovely xoxo

    hungry dog – Thank you!

    Lisa – Thanks!

    K – Thanks so much xo

    Leslie – Nice! That sounds like a delicious meal :)

    E Thai – Thank you :)

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