As much as we love to see what our favorite foodies make when they want to “wow” their guests, you know what even more interesting? Learning what dishes they whip up when they’re at home on an average weeknight. Our series, My Go-To Meal, asks chefs and foodies we love to spill the recipes they have on constant rotation. Next up, Hetty McKinnon shares an incredible recipe for a whole roasted gochujang cauliflower.
There’s a gallery wall in my kitchen that’s rotationally filled with new and old cookbooks I’m working through. Most of the books last a few weeks before I swap them out for a new addition to my collection. But Hetty McKinnon’s To Asia, With Love has remained a steadfast fixture on my wall for months.
If you follow Hetty on Instagram, you’re familiar with her beautiful recipes and dreamy descriptions. Her food is a gorgeous representation of the joyful connection that comes as a result of cooking and sharing food with the people in our lives. And lucky for myself as a vegetarian, Hetty’s plant-based recipes are “truly egalitarian, for every person who enjoys a flavor-packed, vegetable-heavy dish. No labels required. ”
Diving deeper into the stories that accompany the recipes in her book was a welcome dose of beautiful storytelling. The narratives she weaves truly embody what it means to honor the food we grow up with and the joy of rediscovering the foods that fill our hearts. Without spoiling too much, Hetty’s essay on ’embracing a third culture’ brought me so much joy for the stories being shared now and all the voices that will continue to be shared in the future. So, I was excited to chat with Hetty about one of her standout recipes from her latest book and get the deets on what’s happening in her kitchen.
First things first: What’s your go-to meal?
Whole roasted gochujang cauliflower with smashed roasted butter beans (recipe below.)
Yum! What flavors did you draw upon when creating it?
I love a whole roasted cauliflower. It’s a wonderful way to show the grandeur of an everyday vegetable. And I love the ceremony of bringing it to the table.
I’ve developed several whole roasted cauliflower recipes over the years, but for this recipe, I wanted to create something that was quite punchy, both in appearance and flavor. The gochujang lends fiery sweetness to the cauliflower, and it works beautifully mixed with yogurt. The dairy tames the spiciness while also adding a tangy creaminess. It’s a beautiful yet surprising dish. Plus, it shows off vegetables’ versatility.
What makes this recipe your go-to?
I love that this dish is very simple to prepare but aesthetically impressive. It’s very versatile, too. Easy enough to cook for a weeknight dinner but visually appealing enough to present at dinner parties.
For this recipe, you only need two sheet pans (one works too, if that’s what you have available) and a hot oven. This is what I call a hands-off recipe. Very little work is required on your part, and the oven does all the heavy lifting.
What ingredients make this recipe special?
The gochujang adds a hint of drama to this recipe! Color, intense fermented flavors, sweetness, while also adding that element of surprise. I don’t think many people think to add gochujang to cauliflower! Gochujang is both sweet and fiery, and while the yogurt will marginally tame this heat, I encourage you to add as little or as much as you like to the yogurt marinade, to suit your preferred spice levels.
This recipe is already gluten-free! Are there swaps that can make it dairy-free as well?
To make it vegan, you can definitely use dairy-free yogurt. I recommend coconut yogurt.
What is the secret to making this meal taste delicious every time?
Don’t be afraid to roast your cauliflower until very golden. A lighter cauliflower will have less flavor than a deeply-browned one. A caramelized exterior means your cauliflower has smoky flavor which provides a nice juxtaposition to the sweet, tender internal flesh.
What are your must-have kitchen tools in the kitchen?
A sheet pan! I love sheet pans — I have about four or five permanently stacked in my oven. I use them for everything. Apart from roasting, they’re great to use for mixing ingredients or for stacking dumplings or wontons (anything you’ll be making in bulk).
My other favorites? A great utility knife (mine is from Tokyo), a good pair of kitchen scissors (my fave is from Material Kitchen), a use-for-everything 10-inch skillet (I love my cast iron from Staub) and chopsticks for cooking, mixing, and whisking. Or really, everything.
What are some other recipes from To Asia, With Love that our readers must try?
I have so many favorites! The Sheet Pan Chow Mein, Life-Changing Udon, Banh Mi Salad, Salt and Pepper Eggplant, Vegan Tantanmen, Soy Sauce Noodles With Fried Eggs. The list goes on…
Thank you Hetty for sharing this recipe with us! For more exclusive recipes from Hetty’s kitchen, subscribe to Hetty’s free monthly newsletter, explore her magazine, Peddler Journal, and check out her accompanying podcast, The House Specials.
Recipe from To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon (Prestel, 2021)