Desi and I had our friend, Roshani, over for dinner the other night. Roshani's a fan of Indo-Chinese cuisine, so picking out what I would cook for her was a breeze. And it was also perfect because as you know this is Chinese month here at Holy Cow! when we celebrate all food Chinese
Among the dishes I made were Vegetable Kung Pao which you are bound to find on any Indo-Chinese restaurant menu. While Kung Pao is a dish originally from China's Schizuan province, Indian cooks have for years now adapted it to suit local tastes
I love cooking Chinese because it gives me a chance to add a plethora of colorful, healthful vegetable to almost any recipe. Also, the strong, vibrant flavors of all those sauces and vinegars and oils would, I think, make it difficult even for a meat-eater to miss the meat.
One tip for Chinese cooking: try using vegetable stock in soups and any saucy dishes because the stock adds a richer dimension and flavor to the final result.
This is a short post on a busy day, but before I go I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving, and hope yours will NOT include death and suffering in the form of a cruelly slaughtered, stripped and stuffed turkey. This is a time to be grateful for everything that's right in our world. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to celebrate that than with a delicious vegetarian or vegan meal that boosts health instead of weighing it down with cholesterol.
There are thousands of delicious options, and if you need more than what this blog and dozens of other vegan blogs have to offer, you can check out the New York Times which has been posting vegetarian options for Thanksgiving on its Well blog. Martha Stewart recently did a show on a vegetarian thanksgiving.
Also, check out my vegan Thanksgiving feast with an Indian flavor from last year.
And now for the Kung Pao. One note on this-- the recipe includes lot of heat with three different kinds of chillies, so if you don't like your food hot, feel free to leave out everything but the red chillies that go in at the beginning of the recipe.
Vegetable Kung Pao
- 1 red onion , chopped
- 1 carrot , cut on a bias in thin discs
- 10-15 mushrooms , halved or quartered if large
- 1 small head broccoli , separate into florets. Peel the larger stems and cut them into discs.
- 2 red or green bell peppers , chopped
- 2 sticks of celery , chopped
- (Tip: It is important that all your vegetables be roughly the same size when you chop them so they will cook evenly. Make those veggies that take a little longer to cook, like carrots, a little smaller. You can use all kinds of veggies here, including cabbage. You can also add some tofu, cut in cubes, just before you add the cornstarch.)
- 2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2-3 red chillies , broken into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- ¼ cup peanuts , toasted lightly on a skillet and then coarsely chopped
- 4-5 scallions or green onions , chopped
- Mix in a bowl:
- 2 cups vegetable stock or water
- ¼ cup soy sauce or more to taste
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 -2 tsp hot chilli sauce like Sriracha
- 2-3 green chillies (optional, and only if you like a lot of heat)
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or other large nonstick skillet.
- Add the red chillies and saute for a minute or so until they start to darken.
- Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the vegetables and stir-fry on high heat, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Now add the stock-soy sauce mixture in and allow it to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer a couple of minutes or until the veggies are cooked but have a good bite to them. You don't want your vegetables to turn soft and mushy.
- Add the peanuts and stir in. Now add the cornstarch-water mixture, one teaspoon at a time, until you have a sauce that's fairly thick. Do NOT add the cornstarch at once-- watch your recipe closely and add only as much as you need.
- Check for salt and add if needed. Add the scallions and give it a quick stir. Turn off heat and serve hot.