Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Double Pepper Kung Pao

(Printable Recipe)
This is Kung Pao with double peppers: sweet red bells and hot red chilies. And one more twist: smokey smoked almonds instead of the traditional peanuts. As with most any stir-fry, the dish comes together rapidly once you start. It's the prep before you ever turn on the heat that makes it all happen.

For starters, pull together the vegetables we'll use in both the sauce and the stir fry. Chop the onion and red pepper in a medium dice. Slice the scallions including the greens, removing any limp or aging green ends. Crush the garlic. Grate about 1/2" of the ginger. USING RUBBER GLOVES, chop the stems from the peppers and shake out any loose seeds unless you really like it hot. You may only want to use 1/2 this many peppers. Now your prep tray should look like this:

3 Tbs Green Onions
1 Tbs Crushed Garlic
1/2 tsp grated Ginger
1/2 cup Onion
1 cup Red Bell Pepper
1/3 cup Almonds
3-6 Red Chili Peppers

Now, the rest: Put the Sesame Oil and Olive Oil beside the stove for cooking the chicken. Be sure to use the toasted sesame oil that is dark in color and very pungent. We'll just use a tablespoon of the olive oil and half as much sesame oil which brings in one of the powerful flavor elements of Kung Pao.

1/4 cup soy, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 Tbs Splenda
The Soy, Rice Vinegar, and Splenda will make the final sauce, but we need to put it together now so it's ready later.

For the one pound of chicken breast, cut into cubes as uniformly as possible so everything will cook at the same rate.

Toss the chicken in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of corn starch to coat.

With the flame at about Medium or slightly above and the skillet hot, add oils and toss in the chicken, turning fairly continuously to cook quickly for about 5 minutes or until it has just cooked through. I usually cut through the largest piece in the pan to be sure - if it's done you know all the other pieces will be too. If this pan doesn't look very full that's because it's not! Don't crowd the pan or the chicken will steam instead of stir fry when the pieces begin to give off juice. Better to divide and conquer two quick stirfries than pile it all in and get a lousy result.

Now, remove the chicken to a clean bowl or plate and add the onion, bell pepper, and scallions. For more heat, you can add the chili peppers now too. I prefer to wait. The pan will have a perfect layer of browned bits that will start to come up when the vegetables exude their juice. If the pan starts to look too brown before than happens, add about 1/4 cup water and scrape with the spatula as you turn the vegetables.

Yes, it really does happen even though it looks like that stuff is stuck like glue! It's the Yum Factor; never waste it. Give the vegetables just a few minutes to barely soften and sweeten. A little crunch is good. Move the vegetables from the pan to join the chicken and lastly we'll make the sauce.

Combine sauce, chili peppers, ginger, and garlic in the pan and bring up to a fast bubble for 4-5 minutes. If there is anything at all left sticking to the bottom of the pan it should come up now. Finally, add chicken and vegetables back to the pan along with the almonds and toss for several minutes to coat and reheat all.  Done! I know, it seems like this has been a long post laden with how-to pictures but here's the real time line: Even if you cook the chicken in two batches, you'll only spend about 15 minutes at the stove to make this dish! Including prep time, about 30 minutes.

Notes for Take Shape for Life program - this equals about two six-oz servings of lean and all three condiment servings for the day, as well as the snack allotment of almonds.

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Peppers, next week Peaches. Check out these delicious other great ideas:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Stuffed Peppers With Quinoa Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Sauce
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
What's Gaby Cooking: Oven-Roasted Peppers With Herbed Breadcrumbs
And Love It Too: Roasted Red Pepper Paleo Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Flank Steak With Gazpacho Sauce
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Pepper Tacos With Pintos and Avocado Crema
Daily*Dishin: Shrimp and Chorizo With Red Pepper Chermoula Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip With Baked Corn Tortillas
Thursday Night Dinner: Black Bean and Sweet Pepper Salad
Cooking Channel: 5 Stuffed Pepper Favorites
HGTV Gardens: Garden to Table: Peppers
Sweet Life Bake: Rajas de Poblano con Elote y Crema
Dishin & Dishes: Bacon, Onion and Green Chile "Jam"
Healthy Eats: Peppers for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
FN Dish: Meat and Peppers


  1. Kung Pao Chicken is one of my husband's favorites - I usually use peanuts, but love the idea of almonds in this classic Chinese dish.

  2. Thanks, Jeanette. I love smoked almonds so much I try adding them to all sorts of things.