Einat Admony’s Crispy Cauliflower with Bamba and Peanut Tahini Sauce Recipe

The Israeli chef gives us an ultimate snack for the fall

September 18, 2019

If you listen to our show, you know that we spend a lot of time talking about Bamba: Why it’s delicious, how much of it you should eat (all of it), and, most importantly, how you may use it in recipes.

Israeli chef Einat Admony, known for bringing authentic hummus and falafel to New York City at her various Taim locations, has us, and all other Bamba lovers, covered. She has published Shuk, her definitive cookbook on Israeli home cooking, and it turns out she, too, is on the Bamba bandwagon.

Here’s what she says about the magical snack:

“I wanted to create a cauliflower dish that was decidedly Israeli, and there’s probably no food item more Israeli than Bamba—a crunchy, sweet-savory snack made from corn puffs and peanut butter. Every Israeli kid eats it growing up, and there’s even scientific research suggesting that eating Bamba from a tender age is the reason for the relatively low occurrence of peanut allergies among kids in Israel. In this dish, I pair the actual Bamba puffs with a peanut tahini sauce, which echoes the flavors. Look for Bamba at Middle Eastern markets, in the kosher sections of grocery stores, and at Trader Joe’s! Israelis in the U.S. rejoiced when TJ’s began importing their own Bamba and packaging it under their own label.”

Crispy Cauliflower with Bamba and Peanut Tahini Sauce

Serves 6

2 cups (320 g) rice flour
1 cup (240 ml) water
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) florets
½ cup Peanut Tahini Sauce (see below), plus more as needed
One 5.6-ounce (160 g) bag Bamba, broken into pieces or sliced into coins

Whisk the rice flour with the water in a medium bowl to make a thin batter. Set aside.

Line a tray with paper towels. Fill a large wide pan with vegetable oil to a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm) (make sure the pan is at least 4 inches/10 cm deep, or deep enough to contain the oil once you add the cauliflower). Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers between 350° and 375°F (175° and 190°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, give the oil a few minutes to get hot and then test it by adding a small drop of batter to the oil: If you see lots of small rapid bubbles, you’re ready to go. Repeat this test throughout frying to make sure your oil is consistently hot.

Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter, making sure they’re evenly coated. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, use a slotted spoon to slide the florets into the hot oil (frying too much at once can lower the oil temperature, which would make the cauliflower greasy). Give the florets a quick stir to make sure they don’t stick together and fry until golden brown and just tender when poked with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the fried cauliflower to the paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining cauliflower.

Transfer the hot cauliflower to a large serving bowl. Add the peanut tahini and toss to coat.

Taste and add more tahini or salt if desired. Sprinkle with the Bamba pieces and serve at once.

Peanut Tahini Sauce

Peanuts and sesame have a delicious affinity, so the combination is a natural. And, of course, peanuts do here what they do so well—add crunch!

Makes 1 cup (240 ml)

½ to ⅔ cup (120 to 180 ml) ice water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
½ cup (120 ml) best-quality raw tahini
¼ cup (35 g) chopped unsalted peanuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Whisk together ½ cup (120 ml) of the ice water, the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the tahini and whisk until smooth and creamy, with the consistency of mayonnaise. The mixture may look curdled at first, but keep whisking! Add the remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if you need to. Stir in the peanuts and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If not using at once, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.

Excerpted from Shuk by Einat Admony and Janna Gur (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019.

Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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