Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken with Zucchini & Carrot Noodles

Delinquent blogger alert. It's been almost 8 months since my last post, whoops! In fairness, it's been a strange year, having been separated from the hubs for 3/4 of it by the good ole US dept of immigration, and then, finally being able to live and work in the same country, moving out to California to start our new lives in America. We're now happily settled on the west coast and loving exploring our fantastic city and state.
Our new city! Los Angeles from the Getty Museum.
This awesome, easy recipe is a little nod to the Chinese influences shared by our most recent home, Sydney, and our new one in Los Angeles. And it's adapted from everyone's favorite British naked chef, Jamie Oliver, so you know it will be flavorful and fresh. It's got the perfect spicy, slightly caramely finish without being overly sauced like so much of the American Chinese cuisine you might remember if you grew up in the 80s and 90s.
Kung Pao chicken: peppery and bursting with fresh ginger, garlic, and spring onions.  
We served the chicken over spiralized zucchini and shaved carrot ribbons, which was perfect. But you could also serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or with roasted vegetables. We loved the bold flavors so much that we're going to make this for my family back in Texas one night over the holiday break- it will be a refreshing (and gluten free) change of pace from the traditional Christmas spread. Give it a try, you'll never order Kung Pao take-out again!
Zucchini noodles and carrot ribbons round out a meal that's light but flavorful. 

Kung Pao Chicken with Zucchini & Carrot Noodles
Serves 4
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe here

1 tablespoon black peppercorns (or Szechuan peppercorns if you have 'em)
2 tablespoons gluten free flour (or cornflour)
4-5 chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon oil that can withstand high heat (such as olive oil)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
3 green onions (spring onions/scallions), thinly sliced
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (to taste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons honey
4 zucchinis, spiralized into noodles (or shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler)
3 carrots, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1/4 cup crushed cashews
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (coriander), coarsely chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppercorns, and cook for 2-3 minutes, shaking occasionally, until toasted and fragrant. Transfer the peppercorns to a grinder or a mortar and pestle, and grind finely.

Place the gluten free flour in a large bowl, and add the ground pepper. Add the chicken, and toss to coat evenly with the flour mixture.

Heat the large skillet again over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of oil. Carefully add the chicken to the pan, and fly for 7-8 minutes, until cooked through. Stir occasionally while cooking to avoid burning, and careful not to get burned by splattering oil. (A splatter screen makes this step much cleaner!). Remove the chicken from the pan and onto a plate lined with paper towels.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot over low heat, and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the zucchini and carrot noodles/ribbons to the pot, stir to coat in the oil, then cover with a lid. Continue to cook the noodles over low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat and remove lid when finished.

Carefully discard most of the cooking oil from the skillet in which you cooked the chicken, leaving about 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, and red pepper flakes to the skillet, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and honey to the skillet, stirring to combine with the garlic-onion mixture, and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken back to the skillet, and stir to combine and reheat the chicken, about 2 minutes.

Serve the chicken over the zucchini and carrot noodles, and top with a sprinkle of the crushed cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Storage tip: The vegetable noodles will become mushy as leftovers, but they still taste fine. The chicken will keep for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.