Why It's Better To Marinate Cauliflower Steak After It's Grilled

Cauliflower steaks have become a hit menu item at restaurants across the country, but making them at home has proven to be quite tricky. To pull them off, these trendy meat replacements need to be cut right, cooked right, and, perhaps most importantly, marinated right. But, rather than what seasonings you include in it, it's more about the timing of the marinade itself.

When preparing cauliflower steak, people tend to focus too much on how they marinade the cauliflower and not enough on when they marinade it. Where many people are led astray is in the simple unknown fact that, unlike a real steak, cauliflower doesn't need to be marinated before cooking. Instead, when you break out a head of one of these cruciferous veggies, most of the magic will happen after it's grilled.

Before grilling cauliflower for your steak alternative, all it needs is a bit of olive oil, salt, and granulated garlic. Because it absorbs flavors quicker after it's cooked than it does when it's raw, it's better to wait until the cauliflower is nicely charred and removed from the grill to give it its finishing touches. At that point, the directions you can go are endless.

Finishing your cauliflower

Cauliflower provides the perfect blank slate for a myriad of flavors, colors, and textures — all of which will show up better if they're added after it's cooked. In the case of preparing cauliflower steak, however, people tend to lean towards flavoring ingredients that further aid its role as a meat replacement. That, of course, should always include some element of umami, whether that be parmesan cheese, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, miso paste, or fermented white pepper.

The other way to go is to treat your cauliflower like an actual steak — after it's cooked, of course. Once it's pulled off of the grill, dress your cauliflower steak with sauces you'd traditionally pair with a ribeye or skirt steak, such as chimichurri, chermoula, or a classic steakhouse mushroom sauce. Then, from there, you can focus on adding texture to your cauliflower steak. For this, chopped nuts, and grated cheese are always welcome additions.

You can also embrace the fact that cauliflower is a vegetable. Dress it with a homemade vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and your choice of nuts, and finish it with a drizzle of balsamic, fresh lemon, or a dollop of yogurt sauce. Whatever you do, as long as you do it after it's done on the grill, you should be very happy with the result.