Kung Pao Chicken…wow!

If you’re a fan of the restaurant PF Chang’s you’ll know why Kung Pao Chicken is a great recipe to master at home. We don’t have a PF’s here and I’m thinking now that even if we did I probably wouldn’t go there. I have found that all Chinese food recipes are chock full of sugar. That’s what makes those sauces so yummy. That doesn’t work for me, so I decided to make my own Chinese food at home. I tried Mu Shu Chicken, Hot and Sour Soup and my most successful, Kung Pao Chicken. This is a recipe I got from allrecipes.com and adapted to my own tastes. Now, here in Montana we don’t have any Chinese markets, so finding an appropriate chili paste was a bit difficult. I got one from my health food store, but it was non-organic and had sulfites in it, which my health food store was kind enough to point out with a little note on the shelf (they’re good about that sort of thing).

So, I did eventually find an organic chile paste on the internet that works pretty well (check out igourmet.com). I was looking for a Chinese red chili and I never did get a particular variety name, so I figured I would take the organic one I found and go from there. I’m happy to say that it’s worked out pretty well, even though it’s a South American chili paste.

So,  here’s my version of the recipe:

2 tbsp. tamari
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2. tbsp. white wine or white cooking sherry
1 tbsp. arrowroot powder in 1 tbsp. water, shake up (this is the thickener)

The Rest:

2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds or so) cubed – marinate for 30 minutes or so in the above mix

2 or 3 bunches of green onions, chopped (I like green onions)
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced, or use garlic powder
4 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
4 tbsp. tamari
4 tbsp. sesame oil
4 tbsp. white wine or white cooking sherry
2 tbsp. arrowroot powder in 2 tbsp. water, shake up
1 tbsp. vinegar
4 drops stevia
1 tbsp. chili paste (this will depend on your chili paste and how much heat you like – experiment!)

Make the marinade, cut up the chicken and soak it for a while in the marinade. Then make the marinade again, but double the ingredients and add the stevia, vinegar and chili paste. Set aside. Put the green onions, water chestnuts, garlic and mushrooms in a pan, pour the 2nd batch of marinade over it and start heating it up.

After the chicken has marinaded at least 30 minutes, saute in a pan until cooked almost all the way through. Add the onion/water chestnut/etc. mixture and cook until the chicken is done. I’ve also added asparagus tips when in season and it’s fantastic.

Here’s how I time it: I start some rice, 3 cups water, 1 cup rinsed brown rice in a 2 qt. pan. It’s the old school way to make rice, takes 45-60 minutes. Then I cut up the chicken and put it in the marinade. Then I have a glass of wine. After 30 minutes I start cutting up the onion and mushrooms and stuff, then 45 minutes after starting the rice I saute the chicken and add the rest. You’ll have to figure out your timing with your own rice cooking method.

This recipe is better than anything I’ve had in a restaurant, but you’ll have to be the judge. Finesse it to your own tastes! This makes enough for two for dinner, plus leftover lunch the next day. It’s so good that I’m getting into a Kung Pao Chicken rut! Oh well…



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