Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Red bell peppers have been 99 cents a pound at my markets — last week at Lowe’s Foods, this week at Harris Teeter. I find that very exciting. We’ve been adding them to salads and rice, roasting them for eggplant pita melts (okay, I’m the only one doing that) and finding other ways to add them to our dinners. Alas, it’s a new week for supermarket sales and I don’t see them listed in the circulars. If I do see that low price again, I’m going to buy another huge bag and roast a bunch for the freezer.

I also stock up on frozen sugar snap peas when they’re on sale. They’re a natural in Asian style dishes or just fine on their own as a side.  The original Kung Pao Chicken recipe I adapted used snow peas, but I prefer the heftiness of sugar snap peas. I strayed off the original recipe in other ways by adding extra red bell peppers plus mushrooms, garlic and ginger and skipping the bean sprouts. This is the type of recipe where you could add any vegetable you like – greens, bok choy, carrots, onions, asparagus, green bell peppers or whatever’s in season.

I made more sauce than the original recipe; however, it still wasn’t a saucy dish. If you want lots of sauce, you might consider doubling the sauce ingredients, but I won’t. Although lightly sauced, it’s a densely flavored dish; I really don’t need all that sauce and extra sodium.

Along with the brown rice, I served the chicken with Spicy Broccoli with Ginger and Garlic, one of my easy fast brainless dishes.

kung pao chicken dinner

A few days later, leftovers for lunch (peas look a bit sad)

Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables

You’ll need a saucepot with lid for rice, medium bowl or container with lid for marinating, small bowl for sauce and large skillet.

  • 1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed (mine was 1.7#)
  • Brown rice
  • Canola and sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 cups red bell pepper, cut in chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 10 oz frozen sugar snap peas, cooked only until crisp-tender
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts

Marinade

  • 4 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 3 teaspoons sherry or Shaoxing rice wine

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like it really spicy)

Cut chicken into bite-size chunks. Make marinade in a medium bowl. Add chicken, toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Start cooking your brown rice according to package instructions. Then mix all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Heat nonstick skillet to medium-high. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the marinade and add it to the skillet. Discard marinade. Cook chicken for about 10 minutes (no oil needed), stirring to brown all sides and cook it through. Remove to a plate.

Add a bit of canola and sesame oil to the same skillet. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, sauté until nearly tender. Add garlic and ginger, sauté until garlic begins to golden. Add the sauce, chicken, snap peas and green onion, cook for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts and serve immediately on brown rice.

Original recipe: Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables, Heart & Stroke Foundation

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2 thoughts on “Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables

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