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Classic Desi Chinese: Kung Pao Vegetables

Kung Po, as it is called in China, is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. Kung Pao chicken is also a staple of westernized Chinese cuisine. Well, here is another variation, just for desi vegetarians. Chef Sanjay Patel shows how to make Kung Pao Vegetables.

(Above): Kung Pao Vegetables. [Photo: Amar D. Gupta | Siliconeer]


•   2 tbsp + 2 tsp soy sauce, divided
•   1 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
•   3½ tsp cornstarch, divided
•   1 (8 oz.) package tempeh (fermented soy beans cake), cubed
•   1 small zucchini, cut in half moons
•   1 small eggplant, cubed
•   1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
•   2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
•   2 tsp hoisin sauce
•   2 tsp toasted sesame oil
•   2 tsp sugar
•   2 tbsp grape seed oil or peanut oil
•   ¾ tsp red pepper flakes (add more or less to adjust the heat level)
•   3 green onions, white and green parts separated, sliced
•   2 cloves garlic, minced
•   1 tsp grated fresh ginger
•   ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


Beat 2 tbsp of soy sauce , mirin, and 1½  tsp of corn starch in a small bowl. Put the tempeh, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper in a large, shallow baking dish and pour the sauce mixture over them. Toss to coat and let the veggies marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

While the veggies are marinating, whisk together the vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and remaining soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat with grape-seed oil and add the red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the oil is fragrant and the pepper flakes begin to darken. Add tempeh and veggies mix to the wok and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the eggplant and zucchini are tender.

Add the white parts of the green onion, garlic, and ginger to the wok and cook for 30 seconds. Pour the sauce into the wok and stir to coat, then add the peanuts and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Garnish with green onions.

Serve piping hot, with rice or noodles.

Sanjay Patel has a degree from the Culinary Institute in Birmingham, U.K., and is certified in food and hygiene. He was named 1996 Chef of the Year by Quality Cuisine, U.K.

Patel is executive chef at Milan restaurant in Milpitas, Calif.


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