Kung Pao Chicken

One of the biggest cravings I often get (which is nearly impossible to satisfy) is Chinese food.  Once I get the thought of Chinese food in my head, it becomes all I can think about.  The only thing I can do is pick up the phone and call my favorite Chinese food restaurant (which I have programmed into my phone, mind you), place an order, and stuff my face.  There is no getting around it.  And as much as I try to replicate my favorite dishes at home, it’s never as satisfying as the take-out I get.  Maybe it’s the additional oil or MSG that makes it so good (I don’t know and I don’t care) but I’m not ready to give up making healthier, just-as-tasty dishes at home.  This Kung Pao Chicken is probably the closest I have come to making a perfect Chinese dish.

Chicken is sautéed with garlic and onion in sesame oil (a flavor punch) before being bathed in a spicy mixture of water, soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flake.  Once the sauce has thickened slightly, fresh snow peas and red peppers are added until bright in color and perfectly crisp.  Unlike a typical restaurant dish, this version gets its kick from the red pepper flake instead of chili peppers but it doesn’t disappoint (if you like it spicier, add more flake or use chili peppers instead).  Snow peas are a fresh addition but other vegetables, such as broccoli, celery, cabbage or scallions, will work too.  Like the typical restaurant version, peanuts dot this dish adding a salty layer of crunch.  If you’re someone like me who gets that Chinese food craving and want something healthier, try this dish.  It comes together fast and it’s as tasty as ever.

The ingredients:

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes or until chicken begins to brown.

Combine water, soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger and crushed red pepper, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves.  Add water mixture to pan; bring to a boil.

Add bell pepper and snow peas to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce thickens.

Sprinkle with nuts.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Ground ginger

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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