As I type this the roof of my mouth is burning due to the excess amount of chipotle mayo I put on my tacos, but holy mother of vegetables do I not regret one single bite of that meal. Isla and I didn’t even sit down. I was going to insert a delightful picture of me shoving a taco into my mouth with wild abandon, but it made me a little bit queasy to look at it, and I didn’t want to offend those of a delicate constitution.
All today I’ve had an itch for something fried, something veggie… something delicious*. Usually my cravings are chicken-based (you always want what you can’t have) but today I wanted veggie tacos like nobody’s business.
So at 15:42 I sent a simple text that changed my life:
“I want tacos xxx”
I sent this to my (almost) wife, who very kindly went to the shop on the way to the car after work and purchased me a wonky cauliflower (IMPORTANT), some stand ‘n’ stuff taco shells, and some salad. We were ready to rock.
Now, there is often a conflation between ‘vegan’ and ‘healthy’. I try to ensure that no such confusion comes about from my vegan posts by frying everything in a lot of oil, just so everyone gets the message. Fried products, while delicious, are by no means wholesome – even if what you’re frying is cauliflower. So, although I now want to eat this every day for the rest of my life, I’m going to hold off on that for my arteries’ sake – and so should you.
(Life-Changing) Beer-Battered Cauliflower Tacos (Vegan)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Large, deep saucepan; tongs and/or slotted spoon (metal only – plastic does not belong anywhere near hot oil); paper towels; mixing bowl and whisk; small bowl; large plate; some goddamn self-restraint, unlike me, who has now burned her mouth and fingers.
- 1/2 head medium cauliflower
- 130g plain flour (roughly)
- 275ml beer (I used lager but any beer is fine)
- 4 taco shells, regular tortillas, or stand ‘n’ stuff tortillas
- Handful cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 small red onion
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 400-500ml vegetable/sunflower oil (enough to cover 6-7cm depth of the saucepan)
Optional: shredded iceberg lettuce, chipotle mayonnaise (1 tbsp vegan/regular mayo mixed with 1 tsp chipotle paste)
- Heat the oil. You want to get it on a medium-high heat and use a back burner/ring if you’ve got children or rowdy dogs around. It will take 5-10 minutes for the oil to get up to temperature – you can drop in a tiny bit of the batter to check if it sizzles once you think it’s close.
- Prepare the batter. Add the flour to a mixing bowl and pour in the beer, whisking as you go. Add a pinch of salt and whisk thoroughly until the bubbles have gone down and it’s thick enough to briefly leave ribbons on the surface when the whisk drips. Very technical, I know. If you need to add more flour, go for it, and if it’s too thick you can add a splash of water. Set aside.
- Prepare the cauliflower, primarily by rinsing it and cutting it in a way that doesn’t leave you with cauliflower rice. You want enough stalk to hold the florets together, but not too much as this won’t cook quite as thoroughly as the flowery portion of the veg. Keep the florets small, both for cooking time and for consumption, as I can tell you right now that the bigger pieces are a lot harder to shove into your mouth, which is disappointing and uncomfortable.
- Make the “salsa” by finely dicing the red onion and tomatoes and mixing in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Now… let’s make some goddamn tacos.
- When the oil is hot, start dunking your cauliflower in the batter and dropping it into the hot oil. AND BY DROPPING, I DO NOT MEAN DROPPING FROM A HEIGHT. You’ll need to slowly submerge the cauliflower, ideally using tongs so that you can hold each piece in the hot oil for a few seconds before letting go – this will stop them from sinking and getting stuck at the bottom. I did my cauliflower florets in three batches to ensure they didn’t crowd the pan and lower the temperature of the oil, but it largely depends on your pan. The florets will take 5 minutes or so to cook, and you’ll need to turn them occasionally – you want them to be golden brown, as with any delicious, battered item. Drain them on a plate covered in a few layers of kitchen towel. To keep each batch warm, you can place the cooked cauliflower pieces on a tray and pop them in a warm oven until they’re all done. Turn off the hob once you’re done and move the pan to a cold hob.
- Take the taco shells/tortillas, and fill with salad, salsa, and the cauliflower pieces. I had mine with chipotle mayo but these were so good it’s not really a requirement that you’re going to miss out on if your local world food aisle is lacking. ENJOY.
See how I used wholemeal tortillas to make this feel healthier? I’m living in a dream world. Also, wine is made of grapes and completely 100% a health food.
I’m a wine mum Facebook meme.
It’s too late for me… save yourselves.
*What a ridiculous sentiment. Everything fried is generally delicious. Isla got a bit excited about the excess batter, then noticeably deflated when she remembered that she’d already eaten her Creme Egg.