Homemade Kung Pao Sauce

First the story.  When I decided to try a Kung Pao Chickpea recipe I'd saved on Pinterest, I reviewed the recipe before shopping and knew the dish called for a jar of Kung Pao sauce.  I figured I'd just grab a jar from the store, and keep on rolling. The day I finally decided to try the dish was at the end of a day I'd spent cleaning the house (I'm talking dusting, vacuuming and WINDOWS, people!) and I'd worked out (leg day!), walked 2 miles in the morning and then jogged another mile in the evening, AFTER the leg workout, AFTER shopping.  So needless to say I was looking for simplicity.

I shopped at Kroger that evening (it's close to home) and there was no jarred Kung Pao sauce to be found.  I was a little disappointed so I quickly googled a recipe and here's what I used to make my own.

Bethany's Kung Pao Sauce (adapted from Ming Tsai)

3 Tbsp fresh minced garlic

2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger (or 2 tsp ground ginger)

1 tsp extra hot red chili powder (found in Indian grocery stores) *

1 cup naturally brewed dark soy sauce

6 Tbsp brown sugar (original recipe calls for 3 Tbsp which I think is much too little since the soy sauce is SO salty - may need to start with 3 and add 1 Tbsp at a time to desired balance)

1/2 cup naturally brewed rice vinegar

1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp warm water for a slurry

Coconut oil for cooking


In a wok or saute pan coated lightly with oil over high heat, add garlic and ginger (or ginger powder) and saute for 1 minute, just to soften.  Add chili powder and saute until well blended. Add soy sauce to deglaze, then add sugar and rice vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil then slowly mix in slurry to thicken.  Check for flavor and season if necessary (in my opinion it definitely doesn't need any salt because of the soy sauce, it doesn't need pepper due to the chili powder so the main thing you may need to adjust is the brown sugar (per note in ingredient list).  Keep warm to use in recipe or cool to room temperature and store in air-tight jar and place in fridge. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.


* The original recipe called for sambal oelek for which I am still at a loss, and have no clue what it really is!  I'm sure if I'd had time to go to an Asian market I could have found it. I gathered it was something hot so I substituted the hot chili powder and it seemed to work out nicely.  If you use sambal oelek you may have to make other adjustments (probably to the sugar and may need to add salt and pepper).

(The sauce is REALLY dark, almost black, due to the soy sauce).