Oil-Free Vegan Kung Pao ‘Chicken’ with Rice

When I was a kid, I loved to get Kung Pao Chicken from our local Chinese restaurant. The sweet and spicy sauce paired with the crunch of the peanuts and celery was perfection to me. So naturally, I wanted to come up with a healthier, plant-based version to make at home for the fam. Here’s my first attempt at it with some minor post-dinner tweaks.

When I made it, I had to leave out the optional spicy ingredients because I was making this for the whole family, including two kids, 7 and 3. I think it came out well, and my wife especially enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy it too, and let me know in the comments if you made any improvements and I’ll try out your version next time!

WFPB kung pao

Oil-Free Vegan Kung Pao ‘Chicken’ with Rice

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Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

What you’ll need

  • 8 oz package soy curls
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tsp raw sugar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced, lower half only
  • 1 red bell pepper, large
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • ¾ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, optional
  • 3 dried chili peppers, de-seeded and cut into segments, optional
  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked

How you’ll do it

  • Start cooking brown rice according to instructions for your Instant Pot or rice cooker.
  • While rice is cooking, pour soy curls into a bowl and cover with water to reconstitute them. 5 minutes should be long enough. When they’re done, pour out into a strainer and wipe the bowl clean. Add the soy curls back to the bowl by hand a few at a time, cutting the longer soy curls into small pieces similar to diced chicken. This will take a few minutes, but it’s worth it. Set aside.
  • Whisk together sauce ingredients in a bowl: soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, water, and cornstarch. Set aside.
  • Heat nonstick wok to medium-high heat (for an electric wok, about 350°). Add soy curls and stir-fry until they look less wet and begin to brown in spots. Make sure you’re moving them around frequently so they don’t burn. While they’re cooking, dry off the bowl they were in. You’ll use it again.
  • Once the soy curls have a nice color, remove from wok and add them back to the bowl they were in. Set aside.
  • Lower the wok heat to medium (300°) and add the ginger, garlic, green onions, and sesame seeds, as well as the peppercorns and chilis (if using). Add a splash of soy sauce and stir-fry until onions are tender. You’ll want to add some water too, about a teaspoon at a time, to keep the wok deglazed and prevent scorching.
  • Add red peppers and celery and stir fry until peppers begin to soften (but not too much). You want everything to keep its crunch. Again, add some water if you need to, but just a little at a time.
  • Whisk the prepared sauce again and pour into the wok. Add soy curls back in too, along with peanuts. Stir fry until everything is coated with sauce and it begins to thicken just a bit. Take off heat and serve with rice.

Did you make this? Well, what did you think? Leave a comment and let me know how it came out, or if you have a question about the recipe, fire away!

Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share on KevCooksPlants? Send it to me at kev@kevcooksplants.com and I’ll take a look (and of course credit you when it’s posted).

Tell Kev what you think!

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