Thursday, 14 November 2013

Kung Pao Chicken

Simple, tasty food that is cost effective and easy to make - what could be better for a midweek meal? Last night we had Kung Pao Chicken which was a winner with the whole family. Moist chicken, bright vegetables and crunchy nuts make this dish texturally enjoyable too. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free and you can make it nut-free too by removing the cashews.

 So vibrant in the pan

A perfect mid-week meal - served with cauliflower rice, a sprinkle of fresh chill, and a wedge of lime

Kung Pao Chicken
(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free and nut-free if you remove cashews)

800g Chicken breast of thigh (boneless, skinless), chopped into chunks
2tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot 
juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil

2 carrots, sliced into thick diagonals
1 red capsicum, chopped into chunks
2 cloves garlic, grated
2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
4 spring onions, chopped into thick diagonals
2 cups of spinach, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews (you can toast them in the oven for 10 minutes to make them a little more crunchy)
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)

2 tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup chicken stock or water

1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, tapioca, lemon juice, salt and white pepper. Set aside for a few minutes while you prepare your vegetables and sauce.
2. In a small bowl, combine the coconut aminos, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and stock or water and mix well. Set aside. 
3. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. You will most likely have pieces of chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan. Keeping the pan on the heat, use a little extra water or stock to deglaze the pan. This means that you pour the cold liquid into the pan which creates a steaming/sizzling effect which should loosen up the stuck bits. Ideally you want to keep these stuck bits as they will add flavour to your vegetables. 
4. Add the 2nd tbsp of oil to the pan, then add grated ginger and garlic. Fry for about 30 seconds to release the flavors, then add the carrot and capsicum. Cook for a couple of minutes until slightly softened, then add the spinach and spring onions. 
5. Cook for a couple of minutes until spinach has just started to wilt. 
6. Add the sauce to the pan, then add the chicken back in. Cook for about 2 minutes until flavours have combined, and make sure your chicken is cooked through (not longer pink in the middle, but still moist and tender). 
7. Remove the pan from the heat, and add cashew nuts. 
8. Serve with cauliflower rice (or plain steamed rice) and a wedge of lemon or lime. Sprinkle with the chilli. I fried mine for a couple of minutes in a small frying pan to release the flavor before I served it, but you can throw it on raw.

Because I was serving this to the kids, I left the chilli out and served it sprinkled over the top. If you like the meal spicy, add the chilli in at the same time as you add the garlic and ginger (step 4). This will give the meal a delicious spicy kick - yum!