Vegan crispy duck? Oh yes! Seasoned roasted cauliflower makes an easy and delicious substitution. I’ve then added easy homemade pancakes and plum sauce.
Here’s a vegan version of Chinese crispy duck – with five-spice seasoned, slow roasted cauliflower instead of meat. Shredding the cauliflower and then re-roasting it makes it soft yet crispy, perfect for topping pancakes.
While the marinated cauliflower is roasting in the oven, it’s easy to make a tangy, spiced plum sauce. Just cook it all until soft and puree with a hand blender and you have a delicious sauce miles better than store bought. It’s also very quick and easy to make the pancakes. They’re simply flour and boiling water mixed into a dough, rolled and fried for 30 seconds on each side. The warm pancakes are amazing topped with the plum sauce and vegan crispy duck (cauliflower) and some fresh spring onion and cucumber matchsticks.
Although my husband and kids aren’t veggie, we tend to eat a lot of vegan meals at home. I love vegetables, as you might have guessed from my kale and apple cake and from writing a cookbook about desserts with vegetables! Getting as many vegetables into a meal as I can is important to me, and I really enjoy creating veg-filled veganised dishes that the whole family love.
My husband has often had crispy duck, but he said that he preferred my cauliflower version as it tastes very similar but wasn’t fatty or greasy. In fact, he asked if we could put this meal into our meal plan rotation. My family prefers vegan versions of many recipes, from pancakes (they’re awesome, I must blog them soon!) to curries, and I like that we can all eat the same thing without a veggie version for me and a meat version for them.
Using Cauliflower for Vegan Crispy Duck
By using cauliflower, you still have the texture that you’d expect from crispy duck, but without all the grease or it being, well, meat. Shredding the soft well-cooked cauliflower and then re-roasting it means it gets extra crispy on all those exposed edges. The stalk works great for shredding, so be sure to use it as well. I use frozen cauliflower for this dish and it works just as well as fresh.
I marinaded the cauliflower in typical crispy duck seasonings of sweetener (maple syrup rather than honey to make it vegan) and Chinese five-spice. Five spice is an aromatic blend of star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cloves. It brings together all five flavours – sweet, sour, bitter, umami and salty. You can easily find it premixed in the spice aisle. I adore the way it’s at once sweet and savoury. In fact, I used it in a carrot cake! Try my Carrot Chinese Five Spice Cake with Orange Icing.
Get the recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Crispy ‘Duck’
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Vegan Crispy Duck (Cauliflower) and Pancakes
For the vegan cauliflower crispy 'duck'
- 1 head of cauliflower (or 550g/190z frozen florets, defrosted slightly)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
For the pancakes
- 210 g plain flour
- 230 ml boiling water
- 1 tsp cooking oil
For the plum sauce
- 6 ripe plums
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp ginger grated
- 1 star anise
- ½ cucumber cut into long thin strips
- 3 spring onions cut into long thin strips
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
- Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. In a large bowl, mix the maple syrup, oil, soy sauce and five-spice. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat thoroughly. Allow to marinade for 15 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower to a large baking tray and roast for 35 minutes or until soft but crispy on the outside. Shred the cauliflower with two forks, then return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutues.
Meanwhile, make the plum sauce.
- Halve and stone the plums (don't peel them), then chop into large pieces and add them, along with all the other plum sauce ingredients to a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the plums are cooked and soft. Remove the star anise, then puree with a hand held stick blender or with a potato masher.
For the pancakes
- In a bowl, mix the flour, boiling water and oil with a spatula to form a dough. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead by hands for a few minutes until it’s smooth and elastic, then roll the dough into eight equal-sized balls. Roll each piece out very thinly (you may need to lightly flour the work surface). Heat a dry frying pan and cook each pancake for half a minute on each side, so they’re lightly cooked but aren’t browned. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Serve the pancakes topped with plum sauce, cauliflower crispy ‘duck’, cucumber and spring onions.
The Power of Frozen
I love meals where you can put out all the ingredients and let everyone assemble their own. It’s easier to serve and everyone can tuck into the parts they love. This vegan crispy duck is just that sort of meal. Double the recipe for a dinner party and add a few sides. Perhaps some spring rolls or fried wontons. I love adding as much veg as possible to every meal, so I served ours with Iceland Foods’ new multi greens rice steam bag. It’s simply a mix of rice-sized pieces of broccoli, curly kale, spinach, courgette and wakame seaweed – absolutely nothing else.
I’ve been working with Iceland Food for a while now, helping to spread the word about the #PowerofFrozen. Previously, I had thought that the shop only had frozen ready meals and wasn’t my sort of shop. Now, I’ve discovered that their freshly-frozen veggies are fresher than fresh. They freeze them as their picked to lock in goodness. Plus, they then turn them into products like Multi Greens – creative, healthy convenience food that can form the basis of many dishes. I’ll be using these multi greens in wraps, stews and sides. There aren’t any strange ingredients added to preserve it – freezing does that, naturally.
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Disclosure: Iceland Foods commissioned this recipe for Vegan Crispy Duck with Cauliflower, Fresh Plum Sauce and Pancakes. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to mess up my kitchen and write Veggie Desserts.