This lightened up family favorite kung pao chicken will be on the table in just 30 minutes!
A hundred years ago when I was little (still am) and was weird (that too…) I would get the same thing every single time I went out to eat. It’s not because I was scared to try new things, I’ve never had that problem. It’s just that I know what I like and I like what I want and I order it. It’s as simple as that. Back when I was in elementary school, mom would take me or one of my brothers out to lunch on friday, and we rotated weeks. When my friday came around, I always requested one of the same two restaurants: Soupy’s or China Platter.
Sadly Soupy’s went out of business a loooooong time ago which is a real shame because the best thing about that place was that one side of the restaurant was a sandwich shop, and the other half was a donut bakery. My lunch was always followed up with a big maple bar or a twisty glazed pretzel, which is basically my heaven.
When I didn’t ask for Soupy’s, I wanted China Platter, a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant on the other side of town. My mom always ordered the same thing – lemon chicken with egg drop soup (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), and I’d order the kung pao chicken, extra spicy, with white rice. Call us creatures of habit, or people who know exactly what they want. Either way, I loved those lunches with my mom and I totally loved that we ordered the same thing every single time.
The thing about Asian dishes is that a lot of the really yummy ones – wait, who am I kidding, they’re all really yummy – are battered and fried, which I LOVE because um, fried = extra super tasty. But sometimes, in the name of health, you’ve gotta slim it down ya know? That’s one of the reasons I adore kung pao chicken so much. Not only is it flavorful and spicy, but it also comes with “bare chicken”. That’s what I call it anyway. Non-breaded chicken, skinless chicken, naked chicken? That sounds indecent. Bare chicken works for me. But back to the point. Kung pao has bare chicken, not battered, not deep fried, and it’s so yummy. I like to throw peppers and snow peas in mine but you could go crazy and add zucchini and celery or anything else that tickles your fancy at the moment. Easily customizable, plus it’s quick and simple so it takes a little of the mid-week stress away when it comes to dinner prep!
- 4-5 red chiles
- 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- ½ cup snow peas
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¾ cup water
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon corn starch + 2 tablespoons cold water
- Preheat oven to high broil. Places chiles on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Broil 3-4 minutes until peppers begin to blacken, then turn over and continue to cook 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then remove stems and seeds, dice, and set aside.
- Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute red and green bell peppers, snow peas, and garlic 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and continue to cook, stirring throughout, until chicken is cooked through.
- In a bowl combine soy sauce, ¾ cup water, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes and whisk until smooth. Add to pan and stir to coat chicken and veggies.
- In a small bowl whisk together corn starch and 2 tablespoons cold water. Bring contents of pan to a boil, add corn starch mixture and stir until thickened. Reduce heat, stir in roasted chiles and simmer 5 minutes. Garnish with peanuts and serve with steamed or fried rice if desired.