I cannot remember when I last ordered kung pao anything at a restaurant. I gave up on it because the restaurant-style sauce was either super sweet or indistinct and there were often few peanuts. Peanuts are cheap and I’ve not known why some restaurants skimp or skip it.
I love the peanuts in kung pao because they offer texture and richness. The ideal kung pao sauce is hearty, spicy, tangy. A well-made kung pao stir-fry is serious tasting food – with blistered dried chiles and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. What I’ve described is the kung pao stir-fry that I make at home. It’s not rocket science and I typically use chicken.
While I was in Vietnam, Rory decided to eat less animal protein, shunning his weekly steak for lentils, tofu, or tempeh. I came home and he confessed that he’d been making dal, searing tofu, and tempeh with recipes of mine. We didn’t eat much meat before and now we’re eating a little less.