I LOVE Pinterest. Who doesn't? I came across this recipe months ago and dutifully saved it to my Vegan board. Today I decided I wanted me some Kung Pao Chickpeas and man, I'm just wondering why I waited so long to make this dish!
In the interest of full disclosure, I've NEVER had Kung Pao Chicken, or Kung Pao anything, so I don't know what the dish is SUPPOSED to taste like. But I consider myself moderately knowledgeable on food genres and I typically do a lot of research before trying something new, to try to get a good sense of what the food is supposed to taste like. I assumed this dish should be sweet/salty/sour/hot and that's exactly how it turned out. Here's the recipe I used, modified from sheknows.com.
For the chickpea marinade
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar - per my trusty Facebook friends they are one and the same)
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon agave or honey (I used honey)
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
For the chickpeas
2 tablespoons organic coconut oil (melted)
1 (14.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup bottled all-natural kung pao sauce, or homemade (I used homemade - follow link to get my recipe. I would almost suggest using only 1/2 cup because this stuff is GOOD, but intense)
2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced (with all the garlic in my homemade kung pao sauce, I did not add any more garlic)
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, grated (umm, yeah, grocery store was OUT - they had a ton yesterday - so I subbed 2 tsp ground ginger instead)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or crushed red pepper (optional in my opinion - shake on a handful of chili flakes if you are a hot mama or hot daddy)
For the garnish
1 small bunch green onions, thinly sliced (Yes! I also meant to add cilantro but I forgot)
1 – 2 spicy red jalapeños or Thai chili peppers (umm, no, I didn't need it as it was already hot enough!)
Cashews, for garnish (optional) (DOUBLE no because I'm HIGHLY allergic but I intended to use peanuts, which I'm not allergic to, but I forgot them too, dang it!. Gonna grab some for leftovers tomorrow).
Steamed white rice, for serving (I used brown rice).
My ingredients - can you tell I shop at Kroger? In my opinion, the absolute STAR, the ingredient that totally makes this dish, is the humble lime. Yes, the lime. Followed closely by the rice vinegar. The lime zest and juice are the foundation which then anchor the coconut oil which enable you to build this complex but delicate dish. You will never miss the meat (or the heaviness from the breading on the meat or the oil and grease from frying). Before I forget, the directions.
1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chickpeas to the marinade, and stir well to coat.
2. Cover the chickpeas, and allow them to marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour (I did 45 minutes).
3. To a large pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil, the marinated chickpeas and the remaining ingredients for the chickpeas.
4. Sauté for about 6 – 8 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to caramelize and brown slightly.
5. Remove from the heat, and allow the chickpeas to cool slightly.
6. Serve the warm chickpeas over steamed rice and garnish with your extras.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe, especially if you've had any kind of Kung Pao dish before! I think it's amazing and this will definitely become one of my favorites. My philosophy is if you're not eating meat or dairy, just make sure to use a lot of good herbs, spices and seasonings. Happy plant-based eating!