Kung Pao ‘Chicken’ & Vegetables

Kung Pao 'Chicken' | The Gluten Free Vegan

So now you know what the recipe is going to look like. But before I keep going on with it, I wanted to share some other completely random photos first. For no real reason in particular, other than that I just feel like it. Most of them aren’t that well taken either.

Sophie & Kannon | The Gluten Free Vegan
Sophie & Kannon, the neighbourhood watch
Levi at The Wynn | The Gluten Free Vegan
Levi enjoying his favorite beverage at one of the bars at The Wynn Las Vegas
Megan at The Wynn | The Gluten Free Vegan
I’m enjoying a tasty beverage – one of many – at The Wynn Las Vegas

Did I even share here that we went to Vegas again just a little while ago? We spent three days there over the Christmas break. Shopping on Boxing Day at the outlet malls was great. Levi totally scored big. I didn’t do too shabby myself. I might be wrong but I do believe we ate every single meal at a different Wynn restaurant each day. I was in vegan foodie heaven. I’m sure Levi was in gluten-free bliss.

We also had an opportunity super-last minute in January to hit the beach in Mexico. We booked with four days notice and joined some good friends on the Riviera Maya. We stayed at the Grand Palladium Kantenah and I have to say it was pretty nice and they accommodated Levi’s food allergies rather well. They have an ‘Allergy Card’ system. You book your restaurant reservations in advance and show your allergy cards so they can prepare in advance. Even if you don’t give them tons of notice you’ll still find they can accommodate you. Most of the items on the buffet also have ingredients listed.

Levi's Allergy Cards | The Gluten Free Vegan
Levi proudly displaying his allergy cards at one of the a la carte restaurants
Riviera Maya Beach | The Gluten Free Vegan
I belong in the tropics, that’s for sure

Wow do I miss that beach and the hot temperatures. It’s still definitely winter here in Saskatoon, though I’ll never complain about our bright sunny days lately. The cold wind sucks, but when the sun is shining it makes it just that much easier to bear. I’m still hoping for an early spring, despite what all those groundhogs said.

Okay, I’ve stalled enough. Now on to the recipe. It’s a good one, so I hope you didn’t give up on me because of photo-story-time.

Kung Pao 'Chicken' | The Gluten Free Vegan

Kung Pao ‘Chicken’ & Vegetables. A dish that I was craving really badly one night and ended up trying a bunch of times before I felt like I really ‘got it right’. Finally. If you’ll allow me to brag a tiny bit, I really feel like this is one of those ‘impress all your non-vegan, gluten-loving friends’ type of a dish. It really is like what you’d get at a nice restaurant but much healthier, much cheaper, and of course, vegan and gluten-free.

In the recipe photos I’ve used soy curls. I have limited experience in working with soy curls because they’re not readily available anywhere that I’ve seen in my part of Canada so far, but I did pick up a bag when I was at Vegan Haven in Seattle last September. One bag of dried soy curls makes up quite a lot once it’s been rehydrated – probably over 4 cups worth of meaty-looking strips of soy protein. You don’t need a whole bag of soy curls for this recipe – just about half.

If you’re in my neck of the woods – the lovely prairie city of Saskatoon, SK, Canada – then you may not be able to find soy curls readily at any of our stores. A couple times I’ve tried ordering from Amazon.com (can’t even find them on Amazon.ca yet) and not many offer shipping to Canada. I just searched again and it looks like this one will ship to where I am in Canada for the sorta ridiculous price of $17.00 for an item that costs $12.99. Ouch! So, unless I get super desperate for soy curls I will just hold out until I’m back in the US and stock up on my own. Soy curls seem to keep well in their dried form in the freezer indefinitely.

If you’re not able to get soy curls or prefer not to use them you can still make this very tasty dish. Use tempeh or firm (or fried) tofu. Or skip that altogether and just add more veggies.

The Szechuan peppercorns are a really nice addition to this dish. If you can’t seem to locate them in your spice aisle, bulk store, health food market, or Asian specialty store, then you can omit them. Do not try to substitute regular peppercorns for the Szechuan peppercorns. That just won’t work.

The type of small dried red chilies you use in this recipe don’t really matter. I ended up using thin dried red chiles de arbol because I had a ton of them. Don’t use a smoked chili, that’s all I ask. If you can’t find whole dried red chilies in your spice aisle, bulk store, health food market, or Asian specialty store, then you can substitute with about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes. It won’t have the same visual appeal or effect but there will be some heat imparted that you’ll be able to get from the flakes instead.

So after much searching and Googling it turns out Chinese rice wine is not the same as rice wine vinegar. Everything that the internet tells me about Chinese rice wine – which I did end up finding at my Asian market – is that it can generally be substituted for gin because apparently gin has that herbaceous aroma, similar to white Chinese rice wine. I always have gin. So gin is what I end up using. No sense having an extra condiment sitting around in my fridge that I can’t actually drink with tonic.

Kung Pao 'Chicken' & Vegetables
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A vegan version of kung pao using your choice of protein - soy curls, tempeh or tofu - or just add more veggies.
Recipe type: Stir-Fry
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small knob ginger, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 4 dried red chilies, cut in half and seeds shaken out
  • 1 lb green beans, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, peeled, sliced diagonally
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 handful snow peas
  • 2 cups packed rehydrated soy curls (or tofu, or tempeh)
  • ¼ cup Bragg's liquid soy seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (or gin)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • Steamed rice or wide vermicelli noodles, for serving
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large skillet.
  2. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté for a couple minutes until it begins to soften.
  3. Add Szechuan peppercorns and dried red chilies. Sauté an additional couple minutes until the chilies become deep red.
  4. Add in green beans, carrot, red pepper, snow peas and soy curls. Stir to combine. Place a lid and let the veggies steam for about 4 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine Bragg's, Chinese rice wine, brown sugar, sesame oil and maple syrup in a small bowl. Add to the wok along with green onions and chopped peanuts and toss to coat, stir-frying for about 5 minutes. Replace lid and let heat though for another few minutes until vegetables are al dente.
  6. Serve over steamed rice or wide vermicelli noodles.



  1. says

    I was just thinking yesterday about how I’ve still never gotten my hands on soy curls to try, even though several bloggers and cookbook authors I trust have said great things about them. Your stir-fry looks great (as do your vacay photos!).

    • says

      Thanks Molly. I was totally skeptical about soy curls when I first picked up a bag. We were really (surprisingly) pleased with them and though I do plan on stocking up next time we’re State-side I doubt we’d eat them at every meal, but more so when we want a little something different.

    • says

      Thanks for the tip Shannon. Unfortunately shipping to Canada is always expensive – and Food Fight charges about the same as everyone else $10 – $40 and up. Hard to justify on a $4 package of soy curls, right? I’m jealous of your being able to find so many awesome vegan delights in Portland – one of my fav US cities!

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