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Sichuan Dry-Fried Cauliflower

4 Servings

25 minutes

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The Mandarin term for dry-frying, sometimes called dry-searing, is gan bian. It’s essentially a two-stage cooking technique. A protein or vegetable first is parcooked in oil until the surfaces are browned and any moisture on the exterior has evaporated. The food then is stir-fried with aromatics and seasonings that reduce and cling to the browned surfaces. The resulting dish is more or less sauce-free. Green beans are the vegetable most often cooked in this manner, but in our version we use cauliflower. Sichuan peppercorns provide their resinous, tongue-tingling heat, while optional árbol chilies add a more direct spiciness.




Don't use a head of cauliflower larger than 2 pounds. The skillet will be too crowded to get the browning that's essential to the dish. Also, for proper browning, don't stir the cauliflower for the first several minutes after adding it to the pan, and once the Sichuan peppercorns are added, stir only every minute or so.

25 minutes


  • 2

    pound head cauliflower, trimmed

  • ¼

    cup grapeseed or other neutral oil


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Madhuri K.
May 29, 2022
Too much soy sauce
I substituted Shaoxing vinegar for the dry sherry, and definitely used too much cauliflower resulting in a longer cook time, but the key flaw was too much soy sauce - overwhelmed the rest of the flavorings
Julie H.
July 18, 2022
Nice Flavor and Texture
This sounded like something we'd like and I was making General Tsao's Chicken so I was looking for an Asian flavor profile. It was pretty easy and cooked up nicely (I used an electric skillet). I didn't have scallions and I'm sure that would add a nice fresh flavor to the dish. We've found a new way to enjoy a favorite vegetable and will make it again!
Ron G.

The sichuan peppercorns are left whole and not ground? Seems they would be unpleasant to eat or bite into?

Janelle C.

Hi Ron,

Our Recipe Developer, Julia Rackow says the Sichuan peppercorns add a textural element here. They differ from black peppercorns, for example as they're more layered rather than solid.

The Milk Street Team

Tiffany A.

Szechuan peppercorns are delightful to crunch into!!

Tiffany A.

Szechuan peppercorns are delightful to crunch into!!

Kathryn A.

I gave the peppercorns 10 pulses in the spice grinder.

Karen H.

My family doesn’t like the whole peppercorns, so I might break them down next time too. The flavor is fantastic!