I don’t know what it is about Chinese food. Whenever someone says, “Let’s get something to eat”, I always think about stir-fry or egg rolls. Strangely, it’s the one option that seems to get shot down every, single, time. The result of course is that I don’t stop thinking about it, which tends to lead into nights of me watching some late night show and filling my home with the smell of peanut oil and soy.

The truth of the matter is, Chinese food can be one of the healthiest options in your kitchen. It’s full of vegetables and protein, and you can put whatever ‘you’ like in it. If you don’t like bell peppers, don’t use them. Maybe you like bamboo shoots. Great, use two cans. The point is, making Chinese at home is much easier than most people think it is.

In this recipe, I’ve given you the directions for making your own Kung Pao sauce, but chances are, if you don’t already cook with Asian ingredients, you won’t have some of the items. That’s okay 🙂 The majority of grocers have a section for Asian items. There you’ll find most of the ingredients or premixed or powdered sauces. Feel free to experiment and find a combination that works with your palate, but most of all, I hope you enjoy trying something new.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb. – shrimp, peeled, deveined and tail removed
(2) 8 oz. can – sliced water chestnuts
1/2 cup – Carrots, julienne cut
2 tsp. – Garlic, minced
1/2 cup – Peanuts
3 – Mushrooms, sliced very thin
1 – Red onion, small, sliced thin lengthwise
1/2 cup – Tianjin dried chilies
4 Tbs. – Peanut oil
1 Tbs. – Soy sauce
2 – Green onion, white and light green parts, sliced ½ inch thick

For the sauce:
1/2 Tbs. – Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. – Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. – Ginger, grated (1/2 Tbs. – ginger paste)
1/2 Tbs. – Garlic, minced
1 Tbs. – Cornstarch
1 Tbs. – Rice vinegar
2 Tbs. – Water
1 Tbs. – Sugar
1 – Green onion, white and light green parts, sliced very thin
1 tsp. – Sambal Oelek (Chili paste)

Any time I make a recipe that calls for making sauce from scratch, I like to start by combining all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and then setting it aside to let the flavors meld. This also helps me focus on the cooking ingredients without drawing my attention away toward the end of the cooking time.

Once you’ve assembled your sauce, heat 3 Tbs. of peanut oil in a wok (or large skillet) over maximum heat. You’ll want to be careful and avoid using a non-stick cookware for this recipe, as Asian cooking can be very hard on non-stick surfaces due to above average heating.

When the oil begins to smoke slightly, you’re ready to add the carrots and onion. Stir continuously until the onions begin to turn a golden color, 4-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-high, add the water chestnuts, mushrooms, Tianjin chilies and soy sauce, sauté 3 minutes. Clear a space in the bottom of the wok, add the peanuts and 1 Tbs. peanut oil, stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic on top of the peanuts and sauté, 1 minute.

Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp and Kung Pao sauce. Incorporate sauce throughout, allowing the high-heat to react with the sugar and cornstarch, which thickens the sauce. Remove from heat after 30-45 seconds.

Serve over rice or noodles, garnished with green onions and/or white sesame seeds.

Serves 4 – 6