Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Forget Take-Out: You Can Make Kung Pao Chicken at Home

This sweet tasting Kung Pao Chicken is my home-style way to make this classic Chinese dish. Serve sprinkled with peanuts and chopped green onions over steamed rice, and get into it!

Forget Take-Out: Make Kung Pao Chicken at Home

What I love about including a stir-fry on my weekly meal plan is if I prep the sauce and chop the vegetables on the weekend, all I need to do is assemble and cook it during the week.

Even if you skip preparing the ingredients ahead of time, most of the prep work for this stir-fry can be completed by the time the rice steams.

It's faster than running across town to pick it up this saucy-and-tangy Chinese meal from your favorite restaurant. Enjoy!

If so, consider joining the Cook-a-Palooza Newsletter. You'll get my best meal prep solutions to eat well without feeling overwhelmed by the planning or cooking. It's free! 

Kung Pao Chicken at Home

Makes: 4 Servings
Hands-on Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. Thai red curry paste (you can find it at most major grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 inner ribs celery, cut crosswise 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 green onions (scallions) sliced, whites and green kept separate
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (I break them in half)
In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together chicken broth, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, red curry paste, sugar, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch. In a separate large bowl, toss chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cornstarch and toss with chicken.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat until it's shimmering hot. Add chicken. Let cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 minutes longer (it's all right if it sticks slightly to the skillet. We'll combine those browned bits with the sauce). Add remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet. Add red pepper, celery and whites of green onions. Cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.

Give the chicken broth mixture a quick whisk, stir it into the chicken and vegetables, and continue stirring until it thickens. Scrape the bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon to combine brown bits with sauce. Serve immediately over steamed rice and sprinkle with peanuts and remaining green onions.

Steps to make Kung Pao Chicken at home

Brent Garell testing the food at College Recipe Cafe Brent Garell is the author of The Cook-a-Palooza Experience and 15-Minute Money Saving Meals for Students. When he's not filling his face with food, he's on the look-out for simple weeknight #mealprep solutions to fit healthy meals into his family's busy schedule. Let's see what works!

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