Thursday, 10 October 2013

Roast Whole Cauliflower and Homemade Mint Sweet Chilli Sauce



I love cooking, and even more so if it's for a big group of friends. My friend says I'm mad (while happily munching away seated at my table).

It's not that mad, see. A lot of the cooking I do don't actually involve me doing anything physical or vaguely complicated. Sometimes I do try; I go all out pounding rempah and slamming fish paste and julienning cucumbers– but most times, I just don't work very hard at all. I think the problem with most people is that they try really hard (good on you!) and freak out at all the work involved (not so good) and thereafter swear never to cook for anyone but themselves again. It's a pity because I think cooking for a crowd is fun, so long as you remember that the meal really is about them (having a good time) and not you (trying to wow them).

This is why I love a Sunday roast.  It's a concept that came relatively late into my life, only after I moved to London, but don't worry, I've been making up for all the years of Sunday roasts I've missed. I love it because it's a classic example of no-effort cooking, of simply having a good time with good friends. You do need to get the (teeny tiny) details like timing right, and you might want to skip out on making yorkshire puddings if you're as lazy as me (horrors), but it is essentially chucking things into the oven and perhaps doing a bit of extra pottering about in the kitchen to feel busy. 

That Sunday, roast pork belly was on the menu. There is no work involved; my wonderful butcher scores the skin for me, I take it home, scald it, let it dry overnight, do a bit of salt-massaging, and pretty much chuck it into the oven and leave it there for 3 hours. At the last hour, I chuck a cauliflower in too, whole. Yes, this is one of my greatest delicious shortcuts– roast whole cauliflower. It not only saves me the trouble of chopping and wiping up the annoying little caulibits covering my chopping board and counter, it looks mighty impressive and gives the vegetarians the joy of carving into a roast-something.

In line with keeping everything simple, there is nothing but salt on the pork, and salt and pepper on the cauliflower. I use white pepper because of my mum, who always uses white pepper with a heavy hand, to delicious results– and because I'm anal and it will kill me to have black flecks on white cauliflower. Both the crispy roast pork and roast cauliflower are fab dipped into the sweet chilli sauce. Because I feel like I need to justify my skills in the kitchen, this is made from scratch, but again, this is easy as peanuts and I even pimped it up with cool fresh mint (because to be honest, I went a bit over-excited with the chillies and it's mad hot).



SALT 'N' PEPPER ROAST WHOLE CAULIFLOWER 
serves 2 vegetarians or 4 non
Ingredients
1 head large-ish (800g) cauliflower
1 tsp ground white pepper
generous pinch of sea salt
groundnut oil

To serve 
squeeze of lime
sweet chilli sauce (below)

Method
1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees celsius. If you already have a pork belly slow-roasting inside, it should be at that temperature anyway.
2. Peel outer green leaves off cauliflower, and remove the stem and the tougher part of the core. Place on a baking tray, drizzle liberally with oil, and sprinkle sea salt and white pepper over.
3. Roast for about an hour, or till golden brown on the outside and you can insert a skewer inside without resistance. If it gets too dark too quickly, turn the temperature down a little. When ready to serve, add a squeeze of lime and a last tiny sprinkle of coarse sea salt over.

~

HOMEMADE SWEET CHILLI SAUCE
Ingredients
1 cup unrefined cane sugar*
1 cup water
2 jalepeno red chillies
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp tapioca starch (can also use cornflour), mixed with 2 tbsp cool water

To pimp up (please do it, it's so good)
small handful of chopped fresh mint leaves

*If you want a clear thai sweet chilli sauce, use white sugar. If you want to feel slightly healthier dipping your fatty pork belly into a bowl of sweet sticky sauce, use unrefined cane sugar. 

Method
1. Chop the chillies and garlic. I left the seeds in and the chillies in quite rough large-ish pieces because I like the bite and sadistic kick of chilli heat.
2. Combine the sugar, water, vinegar, chillies and garlic in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer on a high heat for 10 minutes.
3. Lower the heat till it's just barely simmering, then add the starch slurry, stirring the mixture constantly till it thickens. Remove from the stove and it cool down and thicken even more.
4. When cool, add the chopped mint to the sweet chilli sauce and let the flavour infuse for at least half an hour (which is when your cauli and pork is done anyway).


Some final instructions for a great Sunday:
Bring the roast cauliflower out with the pork belly, let your friends help themselves, and make sure to pour the mint sweet chilli sauce into a bigger saucer so everyone can get messy dunking pork/ cauliflower into the sauce. Lastly, and most importantly, make your friends do the washing up while you lie on the couch eating pudding since you spent so much time slaving away in the kitchen. Ah, don't you just love cooking for people.


47 comments:

  1. Sounds delicious! Have given up meat for a bit and am constantly looking for ways to pimp up veggies. This is perfect!

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    1. Thanks pooja! Glad you found this helpful! But... NO MORE DISHOOM BACON NAAN ROLLS?!

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  2. Absolutely love raised cauliflower and now you've given me a lazier way to get it in the oven, I don't even have to cut it. I entertain all the time and honestly, I don't know why people fuss. It's all about organisation, I have to say though the concept of easy fuss free cooking is foreign to Indians. It's all about how much we can put on the table and how lavish it is, I love the idea of simple dishes but believe me, people would look at me like I was insane. Minimum, I have 8 complex dishes for a party. But I still enjoy doing it and my friends, though I wish they would cook once in a while, gets annoying when nuts only me doing it all of the time. But I do get relax while they clean my kitchen :)

    Hope you're good Shu Han! Oh, and I love your chilli sauce. Going to try that soon.

    Nazneen xx

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    1. I know what you mean, my mum when she's cooking for a crowd, is always out to impress, and there will be a FEAST on the table. But probably not as crazy as you having a minimum of 8 complex dishes for a party- what a nightmare that must be! Hats off to you for staying sane!

      Good luck with the chilli sauce- let me know how it goes! xx

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  3. Haha - 'caulibits'
    My brother is going to LOVE this, thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. absolutely the best stuff ever... love a roast cauliflower... genius post and fab illustration x

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  5. Love Sunday roasts... and yes to easy and delicious meals.

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    1. Easy delicious sunday roasts ;)

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  6. The cauliflower looks perfectly roasted!!! this vegetable (or should I call it flower) falls into the category of "boring". Two ways, with bechamel or sauté with garlic and paprika, my ideas finish here... glad I read more (and interesting) options!!!

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    1. Thanks montse! You know what you've just given me two more ideas for cauliflower! I almost always just roast it- lazy.

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  7. I love this idea Shu Han, definitely going to give it a try. Great way to make cauliflower a bit exciting and no annoying chopped up cauliflower bits - genius! A roast is perfect for feeding a crowd and I'd far rather be cooking than cleaning up all those pots and pans.

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    1. Thank you caz! Haha I am just always seeking the easiest way out- lazy !

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  8. So much truth in what you say - i yet have to learn my lesson, but this cauliflower could really put me in the right direction :)

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    1. Ha! I need to get myself to one of your elaborate feasts then. Maybe I'll bring a really technically-difficult-roast cauli ;)

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  9. It is one of the most amazing side-dishes ideas I have ever seen! I will soon copy it because I am crazy for cauliflower (I usually just blanch it and then keep on snacking all day on my own because my husband hates it and I love). Congratulations! You are a genius!

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    1. Thank you sissi! I love cauliflower too, and can also snack on it even if simply blanched. But I have friends who completly hate it! Weirdos;)

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  10. You are brilliant! I love roast cauliflower. I often roast them in florets, but after seeing your presentation, I will roast it whole next time. It looks so good and with the pimped up chili sauce, yum.

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    1. Thanks Michael! Yeah roasting it whole is so much more fun- and good for lazy people ;)

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  11. This looks amazing! What a great idea, presentation is so impressive.

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    1. Aw cheers Christine- I think a whole roast anything always looks more impressive hee hee (little do they know how easy it is)

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  12. The cauliflower looks so golden in color, amazing! You are smart :)

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    1. Thank you! Not smart, just lazy!

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  13. I'm loving the chili sauce diptych photo.
    I've tried making a roast cauliflower (involving marinading in yogurt overnight? not so much simple-is-best ideology there) and it was a massive failure for some reason, so I'd like to amend the bad memories! I bet it pairs beautifully with the sweet chili sauce. I love the way you reference Asian cuisine in such a creative and subtle way throughout your recipes, no matter how varied they are.

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    1. Cheers Irina! How did it fail?! I saw a recipe for tandoori cauliflower- not sure if it involved marinating in yogurt. But yeah try this, it's the most darn simple thing ever- foolproof.

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  14. Oh my goodness Shu, I absolute love this! It never occurred to me to roast an entire cauliflower before but why not! It looks so gorgeous too - majestic in its presence :) and what a great color. I guess you just section off pieces - so cool. Now your chilli mint sauce is the kicker -- I am a big fan of sweet chillis but I don't tend to use mint -- I'm very intrigued by this choice. It sounds absolutely delicious with the roasted cauli and yes, I would imagine it would tame the mad heat ;-). What a great recipe - so glad you posted this.

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    1. Thanks so much Kelly! What a lovely comment! Yes the roast cauliflower is wonderful, but the sweet chilli is what really makes this dish fun I think. The bit of mint adds just enough freshness and a bit of twist to your usual sweet chilli sauce- I love it! :)

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  15. wonderfully done lovely pictures

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  16. Found your blog while searching for the translation of ikan parang. Lovely homely recipes!

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    1. Thank you so much pickyin! Have a wander around and hope you try + find a few that you like! :)

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  17. I am officially adding the salt and pepper roasted cauliflower to my "salt and pepper collection" which consists chicken, pork chops, squid, and so on...I think this is such a brilliant idea and I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the inspiration!!

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    1. Hurrah! You've inspired me with your list too- s&p pork chops coming up!

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  18. This is such a great idea! Always fun to roast a big veggie whole, and then carve it up. Delicious.

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    1. Thank you lovely one! Yes- this makes it double the fun and half as much work ;)

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  19. Shu Han, I hardly roast vegetables only chicken :) You are right that we can actually cook without doing much. That's why I love roasting so much hah! hah!

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  20. I think your site is poetic! I love the artistic simplicity.... terrific pictures. I must try this dish because my husband love cauliflower!

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    1. Wow thank you so much, chuffed x

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  21. Hi Shu Han, excellent photography skill. 2 thumbs up for you. The cauliflower and chilli dip look so good, very inviting and appetizing. :))

    Have a nice day.

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  22. So cute to see you roasted whole cauliflower !

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  23. Mmm delicious! I LOVE pork belly and love the addition of this roasted cauliflower. I hear that roasted cauliflower and cocoa go well together... perhaps a sprinkle on top would bring out some of those delicious nutty flavours? Chocolate and bacon has been done... pork belly, cauliflower and cocoa... maybe it'll work?!

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    1. Haha you cocoa fiend! Try it, why not :)

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  24. I love the dedication to the theme - roasted cauliflower.

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  25. I think i would made this for my father, he suffered a diabeter and cauliflower plus broccoli is the best healty choice for his snacking...
    thx for such inspirational post!

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    1. Thank you!! I'm so glad you found this helpful, and I'm so glad I could help you get ideas cooking for your dad. You're so sweet!

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  26. Roasting makes veggies taste so much BETTER! Love your version even more than my blanched version and the serving dressing sounds great too, Shu Han.

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