One of the best things about culinary school, for me, was learning how to make some of my favorite dishes. The perfect folded omelet? Check. Risotto? Check. And Kung Pao Chicken. Che–, wait, what? Yes, you read that right. I learned to make the best Kung Pao Chicken, really, the best, in the kitchen of my classic French culinary school. And I’m so glad I did. Kung Pao is stirfried chicken in a spicy sauce, topped with chopped peanuts. The heat comes from Sichuan peppers, those super spicy little red ones. Like most stir fries, Kung Pao is served over rice, but not this time.
Kung WOW Chicken & Quinoa Lettuce Cups
So, about these lettuce cups. I wanted all the flavors of Kung Pao, but lighter, so I ditched the rice and swapped ground chicken (ground turkey will work, too) for diced chicken breasts. The quinoa gives it a protein (and flavor) boost and just the right consistency for spooning into crispy lettuce cups. This twist on the original has less heat to accommodate my kid’s aversion to all things spicy, but still sings all the familiar notes of the Kung Pao you know and love. It’s not quite Kung Pao, but definitely Kung WOW.
Be careful not to over salt. Both soy and fish sauce have high sodium contents.
Lettuce leaves that are crisp and hold their shape work best.
Don’t fill the lettuce cups until just before you’re ready to eat them. Fill them too early and the lettuce will get soggy.
Large Sauté Pan