Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles

1. Veggie pasta-ization (which is now a word, you’re welcome)
2. Asian-esk food

Those are the top two reasons I chose to do this recipe. Pinned Foodie is mostly about Pinterest recipe reviews, but it is also about trying new things. Specifically new things I’ve been dying to try. That new thing I’ve been wanting to try in this recipe: zoodles. What are zoodles?

Zoodles

Zucchini julienned or spiraled to look like noodles! You can do this with almost any vegetable, but you’ll find the majority of recipes with noodle-ized veggies are zucchini.

What will you need that not every ordinary one-butt kitchen has? A spiralizer (which range from $9 to $32 on Amazon) or a mandoline slicer to julienne. You may have really mad cutting skills and can julienne yourself! It’s totally up to you, but if you buy a spiralizer, you’ll probably end up using it again. In other words, it won’t go to waste, something every foodie should hate.

Author: Skinny Taste by Gina Homolka posted on August 10, 2014

INGREDIENTS:
2 medium zucchinis, about 8oz each, ends trimmed
1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
6 oz skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ground ginger
2 tbsp crushed dry roasted peanuts
2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 1/2 tbsp reduced soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp hoisin sauce
2 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp red chili paste
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

1. Cut zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips using either a spiralizer or mandoline.
2. In a small bowl, whisk sauce ingredients together. Set aside
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Heat grapeseed or canola oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium heat.
5. Add the chicken and cook until browned and fully cooked, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
6. Reduce heat to a medium and add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
7. Add bell peppers and stir in the soy sauce, bringing it to a boil. Reduce heat again and simmer until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about 1-2 minutes.
8. Stir in zoodles and cook until just tender and mixed well with the sauce. If the sauce seems thick, don’t worry. The zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce.
9. Mix in chicken.
10. Top bowls with scallions and peanuts.

I’ll start this session by saying this recipe to me seemed really daunting. And in my size kitchen, it actually was. It was hard to make the zoodles with a madonline, mostly because the lack of room. The other part was a lack of knowledge of how to use it properly. I just received it two months back and have only made french fries once with it. There was a lot of zucchini waste that I had to comes to terms with.

Pro 1SKINNY TASTE HAS THE BEST INSTRUCTIONS AND THE BEST HEALTHY “CHEATER” RECIPES. Although it felt daunting, Gina from Skinny Taste has great instructions to calm you and make you feel comfortable doing possibly complicated works in the kitchen. She also has recipes like these that seem as if they would be unhealthy, when in fact, her Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Two is under 300 calories for each serving. Check out her website: www.skinnytaste.com. You can also always click the author line at the top of every recipe to be brought straight to the recipe page.

Another note I would like to make is I made a few what could be considered vital mistakes to mess up this recipe, starting with I did not add water to the sauce. I also doubled everything, as I wanted to make Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Four for leftover purposes. CON 1: IF YOU ARE A NORMAL AMERICAN AND EAT WAY OVER YOUR PORTION SIZE, YOU’LL NEED TO DOUBLE THE RECIPE, EVEN IF THERE IS JUST TWO BUTTS EATING. By doubling everything, it wasn’t necessarily a mistake for the sauce. It was a mistake when it came to my quantity of zoodles. Four zucchinis later, I was overflowing with zoodles. RECIPE SUGGESTION 1: IF YOU WANT TO DOUBLE THIS RECIPE, QUADRUPLE THE SAUCE. RECIPE SUGGESTION 2: FORGET THE WATER. I actually didn’t know it called for water until I reread the recipe later, which led me to believe maybe that’s where I went wrong. On second thought, though, by not adding the water, I made a more pure sauce. Besides, the zucchinis will cook down, leaving more water than you can stand. That’s what zucchinis are primarily made of: water. So why would I need to add even more? I didn’t want to be drowning! I also switched out the red chili paste for a red curry paste, which brought down the heat. RECIPE SUGGESTION 3: FOR LESS HEAT, USE RED CURRY PASTE. It doesn’t really change the flavor, just the heat. I also switched out cornstarch for flour. It’s what I had on hand. Plus, I wanted to be cheap. Again, not sure that it really changed anything. Lots of switches!

I cooked the chicken in vegetable oil. CON 2: THE RECIPE SUGGESTIONS YOU WASTE YOUR MONEY ON OIL THAT YOU MAY ONLY USE ONCE. Grapeseed oil is healthy, that’s probably why she wants you to use it. But again, I don’t want to spend money on something I’ll end up using only once. In my experience with different cooking oils, I’ve learned the oils don’t matter too much when it’s being used for a lesser component in a recipe. Here’s an example of what I mean: I have this great chicken recipe from Pinterest (WHOA! Who’d have thought of that?!). It requires the chicken to be cooked in coconut oil. So, I did and came to the conclusion that without that oil, the chicken would not have been so great. But when I make chicken for, let’s say, chicken parmesan, I’m going to cook that chicken in either olive oil or vegetable oil, all because it’s going to be smothered with sauce and parmesan. All in all, what I mean is I could care less what the chicken in this recipe is cooked in, as long as it’s cooked. You could even bake it! Or use leftover chicken. RECIPE SUGGESTION 4: JUST COOK THE CHICKEN. DOESN’T MATTER IN WHAT OR HOW, JUST MAKE SURE YOU AREN’T FEEDING PEOPLE SALMONELLA.

RECIPE SUGGESTION 5: DEFINITELY USE A WOK. Once warmed, the whole thing is evenly heated. You’ll cook better and happier. They are also nonstick. Now, add that sesame oil. Again, friends, if you don’t want to waste your money on something you’ll only use once, don’t go buy this oil. I already had some, so that’s what I used. Plus, it fits within the situation where the oil does matter. Anyways, add your oil of choice, garlic, and ginger. Be ready, your pan or wok is hot, so it could burn easy. It is literally within seconds that you will get that garlic/ginger smell. PRO 2: GINA’S INSTRUCTIONS ARE THOROUGH AND CORRECT.

Thick, THICK Sauce

I’ve added my bell pepper, which, by the way, I used the whole thing, not any of this half business. Added my sauce. This is where the not adding water could be a problem. The sauce won’t need to simmer, because it’s going to thicken almost as soon as it hits that pan. RECIPE SUGGESTION 6: IF YOU DIDN’T ADD WATER TO THE SAUCE, DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG TO ADD THE ZOODLES. You need that water almost immediately, because it could all burn.

TA DA!

As I’m looking at this, I realize I barely have any sauce. CON 3: THERE ISN’T EVEN ENOUGH SAUCE ONCE I DOUBLED THE RECIPE. I am a sauce fiend, so I say, let’s only add half the zoodles. I add half the zoodles; and for my taste, it’s a perfect amount of sauce. Remember how I said quadruple the sauce recipe? Do it, because now, I have two zucchinis julienned and nowhere to go. I also go ahead and add my peanuts directly into the mix. It’s only a two minute cook, and then I’m done, serving, and eating. PRO 3: ONCE YOU START COOKING, EATING IS ONLY 15-20 MINUTES AWAY.

Final

To my utter amusement and delight, it is absolutely delicious. Lacking heat, which I can only blame on myself yet still delicious. The zoodles are tender but still crunchy and delicious. But I still have a ton of uncooked, unused zoodles left over, which is not delicious. When I’m done with my modest bowl, I try to go back for more. But alas, I am not alone eating…nor was I alone cooking, as I made it sound…the Boyfriend is here, munching on my food and just as delighted with the results as I. Until we both want more, and there is only a wok full of leftover sauce.

I look down at the bottom of both of our empty bowls. There is a TON of sauce in them, because, as Gina had promised, the water in the zucchini had cooked out. I suddenly realize, by cooking my other zoodles, it would make more sauce! How perfect!

As I hum in delight at my brilliant plan, I throw our leftover sauce back into the wok, heat it all up again, and add the last of my zoodles, which of course seeped out a ton of water. And to my utter shock (which, honestly, if you cook AT ALL, we both should’ve seen it coming), the sauce was completely watered down and lost a good amount of its taste. I tried thickening it up with flour, which it did thicken up. But again, it led to a loss in taste. The Boyfriend and I ate our seconds, shaking our heads and saying, “The first batch is better.” RECIPE SUGGESTION 7: DON’T DO WHAT I DID. Just quadruple the sauce, and everything would be right with the world. Also, even “cooking for four,” I had half a serving left for leftovers, which turned me into an even sadder face.

FINAL SUGGESTIONS BY A FOODIE
Suggestion 1: Let me reiterate: quadruple that sauce if you’re making for four. I like sauce, and you should, too. (Not really but the sauce was delicious!)
Suggestion 2: Actually follow the recipe and go with red chili paste for heat. I like my things spicy.
Suggestion 3: Add a white onion with the red bell peppers. Although this recipe is delicious on its own, it was missing something, which I have determined as a taste of onion.

What worked in this recipe: Healthy and fun way to get your veggies, beats Chinese takeout, and probably great for kids
What didn’t work: The smell of the sauce lingered in my tiny apartment (a common theme, it seems) and the quantity as a whole
Will I go back for seconds?: Yes

Pinned Foodie’s revised recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
4 medium zucchinis, about 8oz each, ends trimmed
4 tsps of whatever oil
12 oz skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 white onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 gloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ground ginger
2 tbsp crushed dry roasted peanuts
2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal

FOR THE SAUCE:
6 tbsp reduced soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp and 1 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp red chili paste
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

1. Cut zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips using either a spiralizer or mandoline.
2. In a small bowl, whisk sauce ingredients together. Set aside
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick wok over medium heat.
5. Add the chicken and cook until browned and fully cooked, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
6. Reduce heat to a medium and add oil, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
7. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir in the soy sauce. Cook until just heated.
8. Stir in zoodles and cook until just tender and mixed well with the sauce. If the sauce seems thick, don’t worry. The zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce.
9. Mix in chicken and peanuts.
10. Top bowls with scallions.

YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY! Despite the second portion debacle. I’ll make this again. When I have a bigger kitchen. Did you get enough to eat?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s