Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

I absolutely LOVE Chinese food. If given a choice of cuisine, it's usually one of my top picks. Maybe from growing up in Seattle? I don't know. I haven't played around with cooking too much of it on my own (even though a few years ago I did invest in a pretty heavy duty Chinese cookbook). I was excited when I saw this recipe in October's Cooking Light because Kung Pao Chicken is one of our favorite Chinese take-out dishes. Since it has a little kick to it I decided to make it for a date night dinner for the husband and me since my kiddos don't like spicy.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos
Source: Cooking Light magazine, October 2012

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
3/4 cup diagonally sliced celery (about 2 stalks)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

1. Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of coated chicken; sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and coated chicken.

3. Combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice. Stir in garlic. Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

4. Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.


I used chicken breasts instead of thighs because it's what I had on hand. That was my only change, though. We LOVED the taste of the chicken, but we did not like it in the tortillas. I had even bought fresh corn tortillas from a nearby Hispanic market, and we just didn't like it in the tortillas. The actual Kung Pao Chicken was FANTASTIC. There were no leftovers--we devoured every single bite, it was that good. This is definitely something I'll be making again, but I'll skip the tortillas in the future!

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