Nut Free Kung Pao Chicken

Searching for a flavourful and delicious dinner last night, Jonathan and I decided to make Kung Pao Chicken.  As the LCBO recipe mentions, this dish is usually served with cashews or peanuts, however, due to my allergies, I made it without – and made a few additions instead!  The mushrooms and asparagus that I added complimented the flavours, and fragrant ginger, garlic and green onion pulled together to create a truly dynamic meal.  This meal is tastier than a traditional stirfry – and aside from the canola oil used for cooking the chicken and in the sauce, I would say this is a relatively healthy meal – as long as you serve it with brown rice and don’t eat it everyday! Ginger is becoming one of my new favourite ingredients – I’ve always loved gingerbread cookies and ginger ale, but only recently has it made its way into my savory cooking.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mushrooms – enough for two people chopped into small pieces

Asparagus – enough for two people chopped into small pieces

Chicken Marinade:

1 egg white
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp  cornstarch
Salt to taste
1/4 cup  canola oil

Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp dried crushed chilies
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped green onion

Finishing Touches:
2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

1.  Dice chicken into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes and place in bowl. Combine egg white, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch in a bowl and season lightly with salt. Add chicken and stir to coat.

2.  Heat a wok over high heat. Add canola oil and swirl carefully to coat. When oil is very hot, remove chicken from marinade, add to wok in batches and fry in oil for 3 minutes or until lightly browned and almost cooked through. Remove from oil and place in a strainer over a bowl to drain.

3.  Combine chicken stock, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, Balsamic vinegar and sesame oil.

4.  Reheat oil (adding more if needed) in wok. Add crushed chilies, garlic, ginger, and green onion, and fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add in asparagus and mushrooms and sauté.  Then stir in sauce and bring to boil. Return chicken and simmer in sauce for 1 minute or until cooked through. Add cornstarch mixture slowly using only enough to thicken (I added about 2 tsp), and stir to boil.  Extra green onions can be added at the end for garnish.  Serve with brown rice.

Serves 3 as main course, 6 as part of a Chinese meal

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