One of my favorite selections at SOME Chinese restaurants is Kung Pao Chicken. I say "some" because they all make it differently. Some places use battered, fried chunks of chicken, others don't, and they all differ in what vegetables they put in the dish. My favorites are zucchini and onion, but I will tolerate some carrot or bell pepper. What I really don't like in my Kung Pao is celery. I pick it out the first time I eat it, and then I don't go back. I just don't like celery. Another difference between various restaurants is the sauce. I like mine sweet and spicy. There's a little Chinese take-out place near my office that makes great Orange Chicken, but their Kung Pao has celery and carrot and chicken (nothing else), and their sauce isn't sweet at all. I don't order it there any more.
On the Los Angeles ABC television station there's a guy who gets a feature show on the news (he gets about 2 minutes), called "Mr. Food." He shows how to make all kinds of dishes, from desserts to appetizers to main dishes. He uses shortcuts–along the lines of Sandra Lee's "Semi-Homemade." About 3 years ago he presented his version of Kung Pao Beef. It was very simple, and he said to use a ready-made teriyaki sauce as the base for the sauce. I've tried several, and found most of them too salty for this recipe. I discovered Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce at Costco, and use it for my own version of this recipe, Kung Pao Pork. It's got the right amount of sweet, and turns into a great Kung Pao sauce with the added ginger and red pepper flakes.
Kung Pao Pork
Note: This recipe would work well with chicken, beef, and firm tofu.
1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut in chunks
2 small zucchini, sliced
3/4 lb. boneless pork, cut in bite-sized pieces (I use one of the thick boneless chops from Costco)
1/2 cup Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce, divided
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground (powdered) ginger
1 6-oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup peanuts, divided
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, zucchini, and pork. Stir-fry about 5 minutes, until meat is browned and vegetables are beginning to soften. Add 1/4 cup of the gourmet sauce. Let simmer a minute while you blend the cornstarch, red pepper flakes, and ginger into the other 1/4 cup of the gourmet sauce. Add to skillet along with the water chestnuts. Heat and stir 2-3 minutes until thickened. Serve over hot rice, and sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 4 servings.
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