What makes a stir-fry so incredibly comforting? We think that it is knowing that after a long, difficult day, a lean, flavor-packed meal can be prepared in a single pan in under 10 minutes. A real kung pao kicks like a karate kid, loaded with dried chiles that imbue the mash-up with a capsaicin glow. But in most versions across the restaurant and takeout spectrum, the heat takes a backseat to Chinese-American food’s more dominant flavor profile: fat plus salt. This one puts heat back in the driver's seat.
Makes 4 servings
4 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup roasted peanuts
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
¼ cup rice wine or sherry
¼ cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sriracha or other Asian chili sauce
1 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
4 dried red chiles (or 1 tsp red pepper flakes)
13 g fat (2 g saturated)
670 mg sodium
How to Make it
Combine the chicken, rice wine, stock, soy sauce, balsamic, sugar, cornstarch, and sriracha in a large bowl. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours in the fridge.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, scallion white parts, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant but not browned. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and continue cooking, using a metal spatula to keep the ingredients in near-constant motion, for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the wok, stir-frying for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned on the outside. Add the marinade and peanuts and cook for 3 minutes longer, until the liquid comes to a boil and begins to thicken and cling to the chicken and vegetables. Stir in the scallion greens and serve over a small scoop of steamed brown rice, if you like.
Note: You can adjust the heat to suit your own spice tolerance.