Here’s the truth about sweet-and-sour dishes: One cook’s sweet is another cook’s sour. That is, the balance between the two is highly subjective.
Take lemonade, the most beloved sweet-and-sour beverage that comes to mind. I prefer it on the tart side, with barely enough sugar to take the edge off. My fiance,
on the other hand, once said to me, “Who thinks that lemonade should taste like lemon?”
So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I made a recipe for sweet-and-sour cauliflower that called for a half-cup of sugar in the sauce – for a mere four-person serving. I went ahead with it, despite my skepticism, because there was an equal amount of apple-cider vinegar. Sure enough, when the recipe was finished I found it tilted far too much toward the sweet. I doused it with extra vinegar to compensate.
It’s an easy fix, really: I cut the sugar in half. But even more importantly, I added a step: After you whisk together that sauce, please taste. Decide where you are on the sweet-and-sour seesaw and add more sugar or more vinegar (or both) until it’s right – for you.
SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER
¼ cup sugar, plus more as needed
½ cup apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (may substitute tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup cornstarch
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets (core and stem removed)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
One 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
4 small red radishes, thinly sliced, for garnish
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, aminos, garlic powder, onion powder, ketchup and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch in a medium bowl until smooth, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Taste, and adjust the sweet/sour balance as desired by adding more sugar or vinegar.
Toss the cauliflower florets with the oil in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the remaining cornstarch and toss until thoroughly coated. Transfer the cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet; roast (middle rack) until the cauliflower starts to lightly brown on the edges, 15 minutes. Use a spatula to turn and toss the cauliflower, then add the chickpeas. Roast for 5 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and chickpeas and stir to coat; return to the oven and roast until the sauce thickens and bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes.
Garnish with radishes, scallions and sesame seeds.
PER SERVING: 380 calories, 10 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 24 g sugar
– Adapted from “Power Vegan Meals: High-Protein Plant-Based Recipes for a Stronger, Healthier You,” by Maya Sozer