Cauliflower’s a flu fighter that doesn’t have to taste bland

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We’re in the middle of flu season, so you need to get your protection every way you can. Cauliflower, rich in vitamin C, is a good flu fighter. And here’s a recipe where it is not bland at all, something critics often complain of with the winter veggie

By David Hammond

For Sun-Times Media

We’re in the middle of the season of influenza and winter vegetables. Fortunately, one of those winter vegetables, cauliflower, happens to be a flu fighter.

Cauliflower contains vitamin C, a widely recognized enemy of infectious disease, and glutathione, sometimes called “the mother of all antioxidants.” Antioxidants strengthen the immune system, and during flu season, additional resistance to infection is vital.

Alas, cauliflower seems not, alas, to be a particularly thrilling vegetable. Pale and white, it’s probably not even as popular as its sibling, broccoli. Boiled or steamed, cauliflower can become a sad thing.

But it can have zing. “Gobi” means “cauliflower” in Hindi. Gobi-Manchurian, a centuries-old preparation, reflects Indo-Pak/Chinese culinary traditions. With the bold Asian seasonings of Gobi-Manchurian, this nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetable develops pleasant personality with outer crunchiness and inner creaminess, becoming a platform for big complementary flavors.

The recipe below for traditional Gobi-Manchurian combines cauliflower with three other ingredients also considered powerful foes of flu: garlic, ginger and chili.

Gobi-Manchurian can be a palate-perking appetizer or main course. Prepare cauliflower in fritters or whole florets; we use the latter in our simplified recipe.

1. Saute 1 diced onion, 8 cloves garlic and a 2-inch piece of ginger, both minced in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until soft; then stir in 2 tablespoons each soy sauce and rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or to taste), and ½ cup ketchup; after 2-3 minutes, add 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water.

2. Cut cauliflower head into florets; dip into mixture of 1 cup flour, ½ cup cornstarch and 1 cup cold water; pan or deep-fry each piece.

3. Toss cauliflower with sauce; garnish with 1/3 cup each cilantro and scallions; serve immediately, while cauliflower is crisp.

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