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Only you know your sweet spot for sweet and sour

By: Joe Yonan The Washington Post
February 6, 2018
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Sweet and Sour Cauliflower. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post.

Here's the truth about sweet-and-sour dishes: One cook's sweet is another cook's sour. The balance between the two is 2subjective. 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 fiancé, 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 with it, despite my skepticism, because there was an equal amount of apple-cider vinegar (along with a few other ingredients). But sure enough, when the recipe was finished - a fairly simple one involving roasting cauliflower, adding chickpeas and coating in the sauce - I found it tilted far too sweet. I doused it with extra vinegar to compensate.

It's an easy fix, really: I cut the sugar in half. But even more important, I added a step: After you whisk together that sauce, please taste. Decide where you are on the sweet-and-sour seesaw, and add sugar, vinegar (or both) until it's right on the money - for you, that is.

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

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Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup sugar, plus more as needed 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (may substitute tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos) 1 teaspoon garlic powder (granulated garlic) 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 cup ketchup 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup cornstarch (may substitute arrowroot starch) 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

Procedure:

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, 1 teaspoon at a time.

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.

Serve hot, over rice, if desired. Garnish with radishes, scallions and sesame seeds.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories, 10 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 24 g sugar.

Source: Adapted from "Power Vegan Meals: High-Protein Plant-Based Recipes for a Stronger, Healthier You," by Maya Sozer

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