A loves trying out new stuff, and he saw on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show hosted by Guy Fieri that a popular Chinese-Mexican diner added tomato sauce to hot oil to increase the 'red' colour of the sauce. Of course, the amount of oil used by that diner was waaaaaaay more than we'd have used even if we'd deep fried the Gobi! We decided to reduce the oil and increase the tomato sauce for our version of the red sauce for Gobi Manchurian.
1 whole cauliflower or Gobi - chopped into florets
1 bunch spring onions - finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ajinomoto (optional)
1 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
1. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
2. Bring 3 cups of water in a saucepan to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt and blanch the florets for 5-6 mins or until semi done. The florets should still be firm and shouldnt crumble whereas the 'stem' part should be half cooked. Remove the florets, drain the water and run them through some cold water to prevent additional cooking. Place the florets on a tea towel to drain further.
3. In a pan/wok, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Crank up the heat to high. When the oil is piping hot, add 1 tbsp sesame oil. Add the florets immediately. Make sure that the florets acquire the char marks. Keep stirring to avoid over-burning. Once all the florets are roasted, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp red chili powder. Stir to distribute the spices evenly. Cook until the florets are almost done. Remove them from the pan and store them separately.
4. In the same pan, add the remaining vegetable oil. Keep the heat at medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the remaining sesame oil. Add the tomato sauce. It should sizzle. Stir well. After a few seconds, add the spring onions and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 mins. Add the ginger and cook for another 2-3 mins. Add some water if the sauce thickens too much. Add salt, ajinomoto and stir well.
5. Add the florets and stir well. Cook for another 5 mins at medium heat. The dish is done when the florets are 'bite-right'. They should be tender, yet crisp. However, they should not be too tender. You know what I mean!
I added the oils in step 4 to cover the whole pan and then added the tomato sauce in such a way that it covered only 3/4 of the pan. To the remaining 1/4th, I added the spring onions and garlic. That way, I was able to fry both in oil before mixing them. I dont think it is necessary to fry the ginger. Add more ginger, and make it Ginger Gobi if you are a ginger fanatic like I am!
The key to this dish is actually frying the tomato sauce. As weird as it sounds, this is what the lady at that diner suggested. Not only it gives the red color to the cauliflower, but it also lends a great flavor. Also note that for being a Chinese dish, this doesnt use any soy sauce! It came out really well and it was gone in 10 minutes. We had to fight for the crumbs remaining in the pan ;) and ate half the fried rice without the Manchurian with it :(
Thats pretty much it! What are you waiting for? If you have some fried rice ready,like we did :) go for it! Otherwise, this is a good snack just by itself ;)