Fried cauliflower with chickpeas, pickled green chillies and spices

Kylie Kwong's spiced fried cauliflower and chickpeas.
Kylie Kwong's spiced fried cauliflower and chickpeas. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Vegetarian

A side dish with a difference, featuring flavours inspired by my travels in north-west China.

Ingredients

2 cups (400g) dried chickpeas

1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut into florets (about 500g florets)

¼ cup (125ml) olive oil, for frying

1 bunch coriander, leaves only

juice of 1 lemon

⅓ cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe)

1 tsp salt flakes

Pickled green chillies

1 tbsp olive oil

3cm piece ginger, sliced

2 garlic cloves crushed

3 long green chillies, roughly sliced

1 tbsp shao hsing wine

½ tsp brown sugar

1 tsp tamari

1 tsp brown rice vinegar

Spices

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns

½ tsp chilli flakes

½ star anise

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method

1. Soak chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight.

2. Next day, drain chickpeas and place in a pan covered with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low-moderate heat for approximately 45 minutes or until tender. Allow the chickpeas to cool in their cooking water, then drain. Set aside.

3. For the spices, place all ingredients except cinnamon in a heavy-based pan and dry-roast for several minutes until fragrant. Pour into a bowl to cool, then grind to a fine powder using an electric grinder or a mortar and pestle. Stir in the cinnamon and store in an airtight jar until required.

4. To make the pickled green chillies, heat oil in a wok, then add ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until chillies start to blister. Add shao hsing wine and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add sugar, tamari and vinegar and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then remove from wok and set aside.

5. Heat half the olive oil in the cleaned-out wok over a high heat. When hot, add half of the cauliflower, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cauliflower starts to turn dark golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, then add remaining olive oil, and repeat with remaining cauliflower. When second batch of cauliflower is cooked, return first batch to wok, along with chickpeas. Swirl chickpeas around wok for about 2 minutes so they heat up, searing and blending with the cauliflower.

6. Pour cauliflower and chickpea mix into a bowl. Add coriander, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, Sichuan pepper and salt, pickled chillies and spices. Mix well before serving.

Serve with my kingfish sashimi with tamari, ginger and chilli and newspaper roasted ocean trout with black bean and ginger for a Kwong family Christmas feast.