Guys! Remember kung pao chicken? It’s like a Chinese takeaway favourite, and I’ve usually had it with chicken. But you know I’m always trying to find ways to eat less meat (love it, but I wanna eat the veg for my body’s sake and save the world – realistic goals are my thing), and thus there’s no chicken in this. I replaced it with… mushrooms! And yum! And added noodles cos I love them.
Using mushrooms instead works well because you can marinate them as you would the chicken, they soak up flavour, have good ‘meaty’ texture (sort of) and they also caramelise which you want in a stir fry situation.
‘Kung Pao’, to the best of my non authentic knowledge, involves whole dry chillies, sichuan pepper and peanuts in a soy and Chinese cooking wine based sauce. I also added a whole lot of veggies, some toasted sesame seeds (so optional I’m just addicted) and noodles so that it’s a one dish meal.
Stir fries are the best on weeknight because they take like 10 minutes to prep, and less than that to cook which leaves more time for me to watch the Food Network or Netflix, depending on what I’m vibing that night. Oh sorry, I mean hang out with friends in interesting places.
Use whaetver vegetables you have on hand, just slice them finely so they cook at the same time. I like tot have a variety of colours, because it looks pretty and from memory it usually means you’re getting a good variation of nutrients in your diet.
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than just today (thank you, I love you) then you’ll know my secret to not ending up with a soggy mess of a stir fry: Don’t over fill your pan/wok! Two serves max in the wok at a time. The more space for things to pick up good wok flavour the better it will all tasty. Don’t be lazy, it’ll take you 5 minutes extra to cook the 3rd and 4th serves separately. And it is so worth it.
If you can’t find dried chillies and don’t have a week to wait for fresh ones to dry then do the following: Preheat and oven to 100 degrees celsius, place chillies on a tray and roast for about 3 hours or until dried out and hard when you touch them. They will last ages stored in your pantry.
2 tbs soy sauce
1.5 Tbs Chinese rice wine
500g cup or button mushrooms, cut in 1cm thick slices
1.5 Tbs black vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tsp sichuan pepper
2 tsp minced/grated ginger
2 Tbs peanut oil
10 dry whole red chillies (see above for a tip if you can’t find these)
1 cup finely sliced spring onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red capsicum, finely sliced
2 cups shredded wombok or green cabbage (about an 1/8 of a cabbage)
1 bunch baby bok choy, leaves separated and well washed.
200g rice noodles (I use the ‘bun bo hue’ round rice noodle)
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
Prepare the noodles according to packet directions and set aside until ready to use.
Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl (yes including the mushrooms) and set aside for 10 minutes or until you’re ready to use.
Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Put a wok or large fry pan on high heat, add 1/2 the peanut oil, once hot add 1/2 the chillies and stir fry until they darken in colour. Add 1/2 the mushrooms and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 of the capsicum, cabbage and bok choy, stir fry for 1 – 2 minutes, add 1/2 the noodles and 1/2 the peanuts and then 1/2 the sauce. Stir fry for a further minute And then serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.
Repeat the above step with your remaining ingredients.