I heart all things Asian. Their medicine (hello, who wouldn’t love sticking needles in people?). Their culture (it’s just plain awesome). Most of all… Their FOOD. Pho, dim sum, stir-fry, and my all-time favorite: SUSHI. All Asian food holds a place very near and dear to my heart. I could literally eat it every.single.day. No exaggeration. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be sushi. I just can’t get enough. My favorite Japanese market where I find all things sushi is currently remodeling and has been closed for over a month. Such a bummer. Have no fear, Kung Pao Chicken to the rescue! Although not really a substitute for sushi, it still constitutes Asian food which is always a win in my head.
To be honest I was not sure I would like this. Homemade Chinese just isn’t the same as the MSG filled, greasy but oh-so-yummy take-out we’ve been known to grab every once in a while. I didn’t know if a healthy, homemade version could compete. IT DOES. Then, I thought even if I do like the sauce and the chicken, I probably won’t like the zoodles. Zucchini noodles are all the rage and I’m just super late to hopping on the trendy train, as usual. I’ve had them before and hated how watery/soggy they were. I was so wary I made rice. Because, that’s how I roll.
Wrong again. The zoodles were perfectly cooked, not too soft but not too crunchy – right in between. No watery mess here. I’ve learned not to cook those suckers any longer than 2 minutes, tops. Thanks, Skinnytaste. If you haven’t visited my FAV healthy bloggity blog yet, then skip on over and read through all Gina has to offer. She’s amazing. I didn’t think I liked healthy until I was introduced to this incredible blog. Gina’s the one who introduced me to zoodles. The reason I bought a spiralizer. We’re kinda besties. She just doesn’t know me yet… When I saw Gina post this Kung Pao Chicken & Zoodles, I knew I’d be making it. Don’t have a spiralizer? No worries. Break out your mandolin or work on your knife skills and thinly slice your zucchini. I splurged for the Paderno Spiralizer on Amazon and am so happy I did. It’s awesome. Unnecessary kitchen gadgets also have a very special place in my heart. #ihaveaproblem
This dish really did knock my socks off and I’m pretty sure it will yours too. You’ll love the tender chicken, perfectly cooked zoodles, crunch from the peanuts and green onions, and those bell peppers soaked up in a non-MSG thick but spicy sauce that captures the Kung Pao I know and love. It’s so possible to enjoy at home and is actually good for ya! Winnnnning. Make your own take out, folks. You’re welcome.
- 2 medium or one large zucchini, ends trimmed
- 1 teaspoon vegetable canola oil
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh minced ginger or ¼ tsp dried ground ginger
- 2 tbsp crushed dry roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal
- For the Sauce:
- 1½ Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar (I know this seems strange, but it works!)
- 1 Tbs hoisin sauce (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
- 2 Tbs water
- 2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek Red Chili Paste (or more to taste) (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
- 2 tsp sugar (I subbed honey)
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into smaller pieces so they’re easier to eat. Or, use a knife and carefully slice zucchini into thin, long spaghetti sized strips.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients: soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.
- Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper, stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for no longer than two minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don't worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce. Once cooked, mix in chicken and divide between 2 bowls (about 2 cups each) and top with peanuts and scallions.