My husband likes to challenge me to see if I can recreate a recipe from our favorite restaurants. So far, we’ve created California Pizza Kitchen’s Thai Crunch Salad, PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps, and various other dishes. MOST of them come out pretty darn good, except for O’Charley’s Potato Soup – let’s not talk about that one.
This recipe actually is a take on PF Chang’s Kung Pao Shrimp. The sauce has been recreated and adapted to use with a less-expensive protein. Shrimp are great, but a pound and a half of wild-caught local shrimp are gonna cost you. And then you have to peel all of the little suckers. No, thanks. I used chicken thighs instead because they have to be one of my favorite and cheapest cuts of meat and one of the easiest to sub with.
BTW, I just read that all shellfish were dirty creatures, kind of on the same scale as trash-eater fish like Tilapia and Catfish. As my toddler would say, ewww. Apparently they’re full of parasites and are considered bottom-dwellers. So…I’ll be scratching the shellfish off my grocery list from now on.
Kung Pao Chicken is an easy, quick recipe to prepare at the last minute. It looks like it has a lot of ingredients but if you cook any kind of Asian food at home, you should have most of them. If not, it might be a good idea to try stocking up on some of these the next time you’re shopping:
sweet chili sauce with garlic
They should all be pretty easy to find and inexpensive. You won’t go through them too fast since you tend to only use a few tablespoons of each for a recipe.
The beauty of this recipe that you can adjust the level of heat. For me, four peppers cleared my sinuses quickly. Kick it up a notch with ten chili peppers but beware! I cry like a baby when I’m eating something spicy and this one had me on the edge.
This dish works great with a side of rice or without. I know, I know, rice isn’t Paleo. But, you know, sometimes I’ll break the rules and eat a little. Sometimes it’s better to customize your Paleo diet to what fits you best. If you tolerate a little rice, go ahead. If not, no big. Everyone’s diet is going to be different according to what their body needs.
Either way, you’ll enjoy this full-flavored restaurant make-over.
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbs cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 4 Tbs coconut oil, divided
- up to 10 whole dried red chili peppers
- 4 green onions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced
- 2 tsp chili sauce with garlic
- 4 Tbs tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
- 2 Tbs sherry wine, or white cooking wine
- 2 tsp rice vinegar/rice wine
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tsp arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Combine chicken, salt, egg white and arrowroot starch. Mix well and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients (chili sauce, tamari, wine, rice wine, honey, broth, arrowroot starch and sesame oil). Set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to a wok or pan on medium-high heat and stir fry chicken until golden on each side. Remove to a serving bowl.
- Turn heat down to medium-low and add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan, toss in chili peppers, green onions and garlic, stirring constantly to keep the garlic from burning.
- Add water chestnuts, sauce ingredients, and chicken to the pan and stir fry until heated through, 1-2 minutes.