Vegan Kung Pao, made with vegetables and Soy Curls, is a delicious way to spice up your dinner. This meal comes together quicker than you can pick up take-out, so it’s great for busy weeknights. This super easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
Vegan Kung Pao Soy Curls
When the temperatures begin to drop and the first chill appears in the air, most people find themselves craving comfort food such as mac and cheese and hearty casseroles. While I do enjoy those foods, my go-to cold weather food is the spicy stir-fry. Especially one that involves peanuts.
Call me crazy, but I can’t resist the combination of a spicy sauce, vegetables, and chopped peanuts. This Vegan Kung Pao Soy Curls recipe checks all of the comfort food buttons for me, and it’s easy to throw together using whatever veggies you have on hand in the fridge.
What Is Kung Pao?
Kung pao always makes me think of George Costanza, because George likes his chicken spicy!
While it’s 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.
What are Soy Curls?
Soy Curls are my favorite type of vegan “meat”! They’re made by Butler Foods, and they have one ingredient: non-gmo whole soy beans. They are simply pressed and dehydrated soy beans.
Their meaty texture is similar to seitan, so they’re a good option for those who follow a gluten-free diet. They’re made with non-gmo soy, and they’re high in protein and fiber.
Where to Buy Soy Curls
If you’re buying them in bulk, I recommend storing them in your fridge or freezer, because the natural oils in them can go rancid.
How to Prepare Soy Curls
Soy Curls come dry and need to be rehydrated in order to cook them. They will increase in size as they soak, so an 8-ounce package will actually weigh about 1½ pounds after it’s been rehydrated. You need to soak for only about 10 minutes. They then need to be drained and any excess liquid should be squeezed out.
I like to soak them in vegetable stock for a little extra flavor.
How to Make Vegan Kung Pao Soy Curls
This recipe is super easy to make!
- First you reconstitute your Soy Curls. Save a cup of the liquid you soak them in.
- Then you cook the Soy Curls in a little water until they begin to brown.
- Next you cook the vegetables.
- While the vegetables are cooking, you mix together the sauce.
- Finally you add the Soy Curls back to the pan along with the sauce and cook for a few more minutes.
- Serve your Kung Pao with brown rice, topped with scallions and peanuts.
If you have two pans, you can save time by cooking the Soy Curls in one and the vegetables in another. Then simply add the Soy Curls to the vegetable pan once they’ve browned.
How to Customize Your Vegan Kung Pao
- If you can’t get your hands on Soy Curls, you can use tofu or seitan.
- You can change up the vegetables you use if you don’t like mushrooms and broccoli. Try bok choy and zucchini or eggplant and green peppers.
- Serve your kung pao with noodles instead of rice, if you prefer.
A word of warning. I include dried chiles in this recipe for flavor, but I don’t eat them. Dennis does, because he likes a lot of heat. I accidentally ate one once, and I swear that I could hear colors and see voices. They are that hot.
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
- 8 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms sliced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 5 or 6 dried chile peppers
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste (sambal oelek)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 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.
More Soy Curl recipes you might enjoy include:
More quick and easy stir-fry recipes include:
- Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry
- Coconut-Peanut Butter Chickpea and Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Broccoli and Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Tofu Teriyaki Stir-Fry