This vegetable-based Sichuan entrée features crispy diced potatoes with tender florets of cauliflower, bell pepper, onion and celery with peanuts, chilies and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Better yet, this Kung Pao cauliflower recipe comes together in under 30 minutes for an easy weeknight meal. The dish is traditionally prepared with chicken thighs though I opt to keep it vegetable-heavy and use cauliflower instead. The swap lends itself well to the salty and slightly spicy sauce and contrasting texture the potato and peanuts provide. Serve with rice or on it’s own.
Stir fry dishes move quickly (a blessing and a curse). For that reason, it’s important to have all your ingredients prepped ahead of time and set out in your mise en place so you can add the ingredients to the pan as needed. I recommend using a wok or a large cast iron pan so that it gets hot and cooks evenly.
Kung Pao chicken is a favorite on both American-Chinese and Chinese menus alike. The classic Sichuan dish typically features stir-fried marinated pieces of chicken thighs with peanuts in a tangy, slightly spicy, sticky sauce seasoned with a combination of chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. There are plenty of variations on this dish – some dredge the chicken in egg and cornstarch and flour, some use a more sugary, sticky sauce and others add additional vegetables. I take the liberty of swapping cauliflower for the standard chicken.
In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, chili paste, fish sauce, and sugar. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat a large cast iron pan or wok over medium heat, add oil and heat through.
Add the potatoes and fry until browned all over, about 6 minutes. Remove to a large bowl or baking sheet and set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat, add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Remove to the bowl with the potatoes and set aside.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the onion, bell pepper and celery, cooking until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
Next, add the garlic, ginger, peppercorns and chiles, cooking until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Return the cauliflower and potatoes to the pan. Add the sauce and half the peanuts to the pan and toss to coat. Continue to cook until it reduces and forms a sticky glaze, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve the Kung Pao cauliflower immediately topped with the remaining peanuts, jalapeños and green onions.
The addition of fish sauce keeps this recipe from being vegan. To make this recipe vegan, swap the fish sauce in the Kung Pao sauce with lime juice. It won’t be exactly the same since fish sauce has a distinct, funky flavor, but it will help add that sharper note.
The Kung Pao sauce is not gluten free because of the soy sauce. Simply swap the soy sauce with tamari or liquid aminos to make this recipe gluten free.
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OMG – INCREDIBLE!! I did a couple of variations (added shrimp and changed out some veggies) but the method, recipe, and instructions were perfect. And the SAUCE!!!! WOW 🥰
YAY!!! Happy to hear you love this one as much as I do! Shrimp is such a great add!!