Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is next week, so I wanted to share one of my new favorite Chinese-inspired recipes. In doing research, however, I learned that while kung pao is a Chinese restaurant favorite amongst Americans, those native to China aren’t very fond of the dish. Reasons vary from the sauce being too intense (which some speculate was developed to hide the taste of not-so-fresh meat) to kung pao chicken being a symbol of poorer times in China.
Kung Pao Soy Curls
I love kung pao, because I love the combination of spicy sauce, vegetables, and chopped peanuts. This Kung Pao Soy Curls recipe is the type of dish I crave on cold winter evenings, and it’s easy to throw together using whatever veggies you have on hand in the fridge. If you can’t find soy curls (I buy them on Amazon.com), tofu can be used in their place.
Kung Pao Soy Curls
Spice things up with Kung Pao Soy Curls. This meal comes together quicker than you can pick up take-out, and it's a great weeknight meal.
- 2 cups water
- 1 vegan chick’n bouillon cube (I use Edward & Sons, Not-Chick'n, Natural Bouillon)
- 4 ounces soy curls half a bag
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil divided
- 1 bunch broccoli cut into small pieces
- 10 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms sliced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 5 or 6 dried chile peppers
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 cups cooked brown rice for serving
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup unsalted peanuts chopped
To reconstitute the soy curls, boil the water and add the bouillon cube to it. Stir until it dissolves. Place the soy curls in a heat-resistant bowl and pour the water over them. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain the soy curls, saving a cup of the liquid. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.
Heat a large pan over medium high heat, and add half of the peanut oil and the soy curls. Cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Set the soy curls aside.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan along with the broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, dried chile peppers, and salt. Cook until the broccoli is bright green and the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the reserved soy curl liquid, tamari, garlic, ginger, garlic chili paste, rice vinegar, and cornstarch.
Add the soy curls back to the pan along with the sauce. Stir thoroughly and cook until heated throughout, about 5 minutes.
Serve hot over brown rice, and top with scallions and peanuts.