Kung Pao Chicken

Here is a recipe from Laura B. Russell’s The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, released just this past August, 2011.

Laura tackled the daunting job of reconfiguring Asian recipes, like Cabbage Kimchi and Minced Duck Salad with Lime Dressing, with ingredients that are wheat- and gluten-free. After encountering repeated difficulties finding safe foods at Asian restaurants, Laura decided to tackle the job herself. In her book, she includes recipes from the cuisines of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand, and includes descriptions of the unique ingredients for each.

Laura wrote her cookbook primarily to suit the needs of the gluten-free. So you may have to make some minor adjustments to suit our lower-carbohydrate tastes, such as removing the small quantity of cornstarch ordinarily included in this Kung Pao Chicken. Also, the sugar is optional; as many wheat-free people will attest, your sense of sweetness is heightened and the need for sugar is much reduced.

Nonetheless, if you’ve got a hankering for Kung Pao Chicken without the usual wheat hazards of the Chinese food restaurant, Laura’s recipe will do the trick.

Kung Pao Chicken
serves 4

11/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce or ?tamari, divided
1 tablespoon sake or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
21/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
21/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts or cashews
Steamed rice, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the sake, salt, and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

In a small bowl, stir together the warm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce.

In a large frying pan or a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned but not all the way cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Toss to combine. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, green onions, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken back to the pan and stir to coat. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce coats the chicken and everything is heated through, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the peanuts; serve hot with steamed rice.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Mike

    Use stevia instead of sugar,and extra virgin coconut oil instead of vegetable oil,and this will actually be healthy.

  2. Boundless

    re: 4 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
    That’s often easier said than done.
    All of the soy sauces in major stores here in central Kansas contain wheat, and often sugar.
    We had to hit a so-called health food store to find the San-J brand, which is free of wheat and sugar.
    I say “so-called” because the store is well stocked with “healthy whole grains”.
    Imagine you ran such a store, and read Wheat Belly.
    I’m glad I only have to contemplate what will be planted in our fields.
    It won’t be wheat any more, and I’ve advised our farmer to beware of the crop.
    The global market for it could collapse, permanently.

    • DonC

      We use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos in place of soy sauce. It’s pretty widely available, maybe even in KS :).

  3. Reikime

    The need to eat soy free as well as gluten free is almost impossible, but I found a product called Coconut Aminos
    By a company called Coconut Secrets. It makes a totally acceptable replacement for soy or tamari sauce.
    Just don’t add any sugar to the recipe as it is a tad sweeter.


  4. Roz

    I use coconut aminos instead of wheat free tamari too. You can buy coconut aminos from a third party seller on amazon, but it’s about half the price at Whole Foods if you have access to one. When I make asian food at home, I usually double the fresh ginger and reduce or omit sweetener all together. I find the flavor of the ginger makes up for any shortfall missing in the balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy, but someone else may prefer experimenting with adding orange or lime zest (which takes into general tso territory, but whatever!).

  5. limeyrock

    Use skin-on breasts and brown the skin side in the hot oil before dicing. Like vegetables, the goodness in chicken is really in the skin (also the flavour).

  6. Pippa

    I’ve been udner the impression that I can’t eat rice on wheat free diet – this recipe mentions steamed rice. Can you pls confirm your position on rice and what type is ok.

    thank you

    • Dr. Davis

      If you just go lightly and try to stay at or below 15 grams “net” carbs, you will likely be fine. Kids can get away with more.

      • Pippa

        Thanks Dr Davies. Just thought I’d let you know, I’m almost 3 months wheat free. Have lost – 16 cms from waist (now waist is 80cms for women which is considered maximum width for health), and lost 7 kilos – down to 69kg. I believe 66kg for my height is considered healthy so almost there!! I work in an open plan office and note often that when my colleagues eat heavy pasta for lunch, they’re either complaining of being so hungry a hour or so later or they’re feeling really ill, but when they bring in a wheat free salad, they feel great. I keep telling them – it’s the wheat.