In my recent mission to make more vegan dishes (check out our Soy Sauce Braised Wild Mushroom Noodles from a couple weeks ago), I’ve created this recipe for Kung Pao Mushrooms, a vegan version of the classic Kung Pao Chicken, with mushrooms!
My first thought after tasting it was, “BRILLIANT!”
A Vegan Alternative Where You Don’t Miss the Meat
I know that not all tangy and savory classics like Kung Pao Chicken can have a pleasing vegan alternative, but this dish is definitely not just a sad veggie-filled imitation. By using king mushrooms as the main ingredient, with their subtle mushroom flavor and meaty texture, this Kung Pao Mushroom dish definitely deserves status as a main dish on your dinner table.
King mushrooms seem to be named as such because of their massive stems. These are substantial and very versatile mushrooms–you can pan-fry them, stir-fry them, braise them steam them, or grill them. As is the case with this vegan dish, it’s a great candidate to serve as a meat substitute.
Also, has anyone noticed that the mushroom selection in produce departments has really expanded in recent years? Fresh enoki mushrooms, king mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and even fresh wood ear mushrooms have all made their way to the produce shelves. Progress!!!
The Importance Of Cutting/Dicing
One of the signature aspects of Kung Pao Chicken and this Kung Pao Mushrooms dish is that all the ingredients are diced small. I’ll take this opportunity to talk a little bit about chopping.
Different ingredients require different cooking times. The thickness and the size of the cut also determines the cooking time.
So with this recipe (or really any), it’s actually pretty important to follow the cutting/slicing/chopping instructions for size and thickness, as it will directly affect the flavor and texture at the end!
This is an easy Chinese recipe––cutting the ingredients before heating up your wok is probably the most taxing part. But don’t let that stop you! I bet you won’t miss the chicken in this vegan version––Kung Pao Mushrooms. Here’s how to make it:
Kung Pao Mushrooms: Recipe Instructions
To save time, use plain roasted peanuts (shelled and peeled). If you want to use fresh peanuts that have not yet been roasted, add them to a wok with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat, and toast them for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
If you have time or extra peanuts, try our Wok Fried Peanuts. They are a great way to enjoy peanuts as a snack!
Prepare the sauce by mixing together the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, ¼ cup water, and cornstarch.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium heat, Add the king mushrooms, and cook until they’re caramelized and any liquid has cooked off. Don’t stir them too much, or the mushrooms won’t caramelize! Transfer to a dish and set aside.
Now heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chili peppers. Cook for about 1 minute, and take care not to burn the spices.
Now add the red bell peppers…
And the cooked king mushrooms.
Turn up the heat, and stir to mix everything together. Add the prepared sauce (stir it again before adding it to the wok, as the cornstarch will have settled to the bottom of the bowl).
Stir everything together quickly. Finally, add the roasted peanuts and sesame oil.
Mix one more time to make sure everything is coated with sauce, and transfer your Kung Pao Mushrooms to a serving dish.
Kung Pao mushrooms, a vegan version of the classic Kung Pao Chicken!