Beer Battered Cauliflower Tacos with Vegan Chipotle Cream

I got a request last week for a way to make vegetables taste good. In my experience, the best way to make anything taste good is by frying it. It certainly won’t be nutritious, but we don’t count calories here at FW. (More on that topic on Wednesday!) So here’s my answer to the tasty vegetable question: beer battered cauli tacos with a killer poblano slaw and some hella chipotle cream that contains no dairy!

The idea for these occurred to me when I was talking to Kyle about good veg-friendly options. He’s addicted to cheeseburgers, so making vegetarian dishes that he enjoys can be a difficult task. About a year ago, though, I made Thug Kitchen’s buffalo cauliflower, and he ate it with reckless abandon. That got me thinking… what else could you do with cauliflower? And as with anything, the best options are:

  1. Deep fry it.
  2. Taco it.
  3. Both.

So I went for option 3. You start by dredging the cauliflower in regular all-purpose flour, then tossing it in a spiced beer batter before adding it to hot oil for a few minutes to get nice and crispy. The batter turns light, fluffy, and addictively crunchy, while the cauliflower softens to a meat-like texture that pulls apart beautifully inside. The slaw is crunchy, bright, and provides a perfect contrast for the heavy cauliflower and sauce. Don’t skip it!

These tacos disappeared in about 5 seconds flat. I made them for my meat-eating framily (not a typo) and they were amazed that the chipotle cream contained no dairy at all. The key is to soak your cashews for at least an hour so that they get nice and soft before you blend them. If you need to add a little extra nondairy milk (or even water) to loosen it up, go right ahead. Just be careful not to add too much, or you might lose some of that thick consistency you’d find in a non-vegan chipotle aioli. You’ll want to slather it all over everything, so maybe make a little extra.

Be forewarned: the ingredients list is a little long, but I promise you it will be worth it. All things considered, it’s not a super expensive recipe; you don’t have to buy any meat, which is usually the most expensive ingredient. If you don’t have smoked paprika or coriander, you can skip them and go rogue with your own spice blend. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and use what you have in your pantry!

I’m so serious, you guys—you won’t miss the meat here. I was stuffed after eating two tacos, and I’m someone who could eat tacos all night. I’m ceaselessly amazed by the magic of cauliflower. It can be anything—rice, pizza crust, or even, in this case, a meat substitute. I have to say, though: this is probably my favorite cauliflower recipe to date. What’s your favorite use for cauliflower?

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Beer Battered Cauliflower Tacos with Vegan Chipotle Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small heads cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 4 cups vegetable or canola oil, for frying
  • Tortillas, for serving

For the slaw:

  • 2 cups coleslaw
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup mayo (vegan or not)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the chipotle cream:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour in 2 cups water
  • 3 chipotles en adobo
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the beer batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for dredging
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk

Instructions

  1. Combine all the slaw ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Add all the chipotle cream ingredients to a blender. Blend, adding more liquid if needed, for 3–4 minutes, or until a creamy consistency is reached. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add vegetable oil to a large pot or a deep-fryer fitted with a thermometer. Heat until oil reaches 350ºF.
  4. While oil is heating, whisk together flour and spices in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer and nondairy milk. Batter should be smooth, and it shouldn’t be too thick or too thin—think pancake batter consistency.
  5. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in a small, shallow bowl. Set up a dredging station: cauliflower first, then regular flour, then beer batter, then fryer.
  6. Dredge cauliflower in flour, then in beer batter. Drop in hot oil and fry for 2–3 minutes, or until cauliflower is golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue frying cauliflower in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot.
  7. Serve in warm tortillas with slaw and chipotle cream. Tastes best with a citrusy cocktail—trust me.

Notes

  • When deep-frying, I like to have a dry hand and a wet hand. I’ll grab the cauliflower with my left hand, toss it in the flour, then toss it in the wet batter and coat it with my right hand. I use my right hand to drop it in the fryer. This keeps your dry and wet ingredients separate so things don’t get too messy.
  • You can use any lighter beer for this. I just used Bud Light (lol) but it would also work with any amber ale, IPA, pilsner, lager, etc. Just don’t try it with a porter. It’ll be weird. Don’t even go there.
  • If you don’t have a deep fry thermometer, fear not! Use this neat trick: put a single popcorn kernel in the heated oil. Once it pops, you’re ready to fry!

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