Saturday, October 15, 2022

Kung Pao "Chicken", Fast, Hot, and Daring


I haven't had Kung Pao Chicken in ages, much less cooked it myself. I used to eat it all the time, mainly from Panda Express when we were in too much of a hurry to cook. It was easy take-out.

Back in the days when I was eating meat a lot, the Panda Express on Montana Ave in Santa Monica in the Pavillions Market was just a few blocks from home. Wham! Bam! easy eating! The only worry was getting a space in the Pavillions very small parking lot to pick up one's order.

We once ate nothing but PE while finishing a project at Sony, since it was the easiest option. I haven't ever cooked Kung Pao Chicken but I thought since I've discovered Daring Chicken why not give it a try?

I know those can be famous last words but this stuff worked!!! Kung Pao without the Chicken? How could that be? Well it can.

So I set out to make this stuff. Perusing Kung Pao recipes I found one I liked and and gave it a try. It was a hit and so since  it was requested again, I'm sharing it here. This is a simple recipe and if you eat regular chicken just use that, but it also works with plant chicken. Here's how.

Kung Pao "Chicken"

Here's What You Need

1) 1 lb of vegan "chicken" or the real McCoy. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2) 1 white egg, vegan egg white, or  2 Tbs of aquafaba

3) 1/2 tsp salt

4) 1/4 cup cornstarch

5) 2 Tbs vegetable oil. I used peanut oil

6) 1 tsp cooking wine, or white wine

7) 2 and 1/2 Tbs soy sauce

8) 1/3 cup of water

9) 2 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil

10) 12 whole small dried red chili peppers, no bigger than 3 inches long. I used arbol chilies.

11) 1 tsp ground ginger

12) 1 tsp ground garlic or shallot

13) 1 tsp crushed red chili pepper

14) 1/2 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tsp water 

15) 1 tsp sesame oil

16) 2 oz dry roasted unsalted peanuts

17) 1 red bell pepper cut into 3/4 inch pieces

18) 2 large zucchini cut into 3/4 inch chunks

19) 1 Tbs Chinese black vinegar  (balsamic vinegar can be a sub for this.)

 Here's What To Do

 Mix the chicken, 1/2 tsp salt,  the egg white or aquafaba, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, and 2 Tbs vegetable oil together and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 In a small bowl, mix your soy sauce, white wine, and water. Set it aside for later.

Heat your wok or sauce pan on high for about 10 seconds. When the pan is nice and hot add in 2 Tbs of peanut oil.

Take the chicken out of the marinade and saute it on high heat  for a few minutes, until it browns a bit and cooks through.

Now take the chicken out of the pan and set it aside in a large bowl.

Add 1 more Tbs of vegetable oil to the pan, and toss in the red  bell pepper and zucchini. Cook them until they're slightly caramelized and lightly cooked.

Now take the vegetables out of the pan and stick them into the bowl where you put the chicken. Set this aside. Things are about to get spicy!

Toss the 12 dried red chilies into the pan, stir them around until they darken, (this takes seconds) then add the peanuts, the ground ginger, and garlic or shallot, the crushed red chili flakes and the sesame oil.

Mix everything around for a few seconds and then add in the small bowl of soy sauce, water, and wine mixture. 

Bring everything in the pan to a boil then add in the 1/2 Tbs cornstarch, 1/2 Tbs water. Stir it until it's thickened.

Add the chicken and vegetables back into the sauce , and stir everything to combine.

Add in the black vinegar.

You are done!

Serve it up. The first time I made this I had some Chinese noodles, so I used those. This last time I used jasmine rice. I highly recommend going the rice route. It just seemed "right". This was hot and spicy and I definitely see why people drink a nice frosty brew with this. I don't drink, but it kind of made me wish I did. Spicy!

So there it is, Kung Pao Chickenless Chicken...or Kung Pao Chicken if you will. Easy to make at home and you don't have to worry about getting  a space in the Pavillions  when you go pick up your order.

Coming up next, looking toward the holidays and a spooooooky  Halloween dessert.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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