Crispy panko-coated cauliflower florets are baked up and drenched in spicy gravy in this lightened-up take on cauliflower Manchurian.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the batter. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, flour, and soy sauce.
Make the breading. In a separate bowl, stir together the panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Dip a cauliflower floret into batter, rolling it around to coat it. Remove the floret and shake off any excess batter, then transfer the floret to the breading. Roll it around to coat it.
Place the cauliflower floret on the baking sheet and repeat the process for the remaining florets.
Generously spray or brush the cauliflower florets with oil.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake the cauliflower until tender and lightly browned on the outside, 20-25 minutes.
While the cauliflower bakes, coat the bottom of a small pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
Add the white parts of the scallions, garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, and celery. Sauté everything for about a minute, until very fragrant.
Stir in the broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, rice vinegar, sambal oelek or sriracha, and black pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl or cup, then stir the mixture into the broth mixture. Bring it back up to a simmer and let it cook for about 1 minute, until it thickens up a bit.
Transfer the baked cauliflower to a plate or bowl and pour the gravy over top. Sprinkle with cilantro and the green parts of the scallions. Divide onto plates and serve.