By Crystal Grobe

Growing up, I became a fan of takeout Chinese food, or more specifically, chicken chow mein and egg rolls, since that’s all my family ever ordered. Unless, of course, my brother was working and he’d sneak in an order of egg foo young and bring home a whole bag of fortune cookies.

It wasn’t until high school that I actually ate at a Chinese restaurant, when my friend, Allison, took me to Tak Shing in Lakeville. She ordered orange chicken, which I had never heard of before. When it arrived, I was kind of surprised to learn that it was just a fried chicken breast cut into slices and served with a lemony sweet sauce. Despite my apprehension about the dish, it was quite good and I found myself ordering orange chicken any chance I got.

While I still order orange chicken from time to time, I tend to go the healthier route by ordering steamed vegetables, white rice, and sliced chicken or tofu. And sometimes I even make my own “takeout” at home. This Kung Pao Shrimp is quick to make, and either use a pre-made sauce or make your own, adding more spice as desired. I’ve been using massaged kale instead of rice in a lot of dishes lately to increase the vegetables and decrease the carbs. Give it a try.

Kung Pao Shrimp
(serves 4)

For the shrimp:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (regular soy sauce will work too)
  • 1 tsp mirin (or white wine)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Sprinkle of cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the kung pao sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the stir-fry:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 small dried Thai chilies, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Marinate the shrimp in soy sauce mixture for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the kung pao sauce by whisking sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat a wok over medium to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add shrimp, toss once, and cook without stirring for 45 seconds, stir, and cook another 45 seconds or until shrimp start to curl. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok and add onion and red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and add zucchini. Once vegetables are softened and have gained some color, push aside and add peanuts, garlic, ginger, scallion and chilies. Cook, stirring frequently until fragrant. Add shrimp back to the pan along with the kung pao sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve over steamed rice or kale. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, for garnish.