Sunday, December 9, 2012

In the Kitchen With Moni - Kung Pao Shrimp Makeover

I'm so happy to share cooking inspiration from one of my dear friends, Monica (also known as Mo or Moni, as we affectionately call her). Monica is my healthy food muse. She knows how to eat sensibly and is also great at remaking diet-busting recipes into healthy yet super tasty dishes. Today, I'll be sharing one of Monica's best recipe makeovers - a guiltless version of Kung Pao Shrimp with an amazing and easy side dish of Sichuan Asparagus. 

Lighter Kung Pao Shimp with Sichuan Asparagus and Brown Rice, Photo: NK 

Looks great, right? Trust me, you won't miss the extra fat, salt, or starch. This dish proves that you need not lose your joie de vivre to stay slim! While I made some minor tweaks to her recipe because I was missing one or two of the ingredients, you can find the original recipe and many other great dishes here on Moni's blog: Meals From Mo's Kitchen.

Before we start, here's how to time this meal:
Preheat the Oven to 400
Clean the Shrimp
Cut up the Lemons and put the Asparagus in the Oven.
Chop all the Shrimp and Sichuan Sauce Ingredients, and pull out all the bottles you'll need. 
Cook the Kung Pao Shrimp, preparing the Sichuan Sauce during inactive time. 
~Everything should be done around the same time this way. 

Healthy Baked Asparagus, Photo: NK
Let's start with the Asparagus Side Dish. I have to say, this recipe is really amazing. I love baking Asparagus but I refrain from doing so often because I don't like having to slather it in oil. Covering the Asparagus with Lemon Slices, as Monica does, solves this problem. The juices of the Lemon basically steam the stalks, cooking them perfectly without using excess oil and fat. Smart! And who knew making a Sichuan Sauce could be so easy? This sauce would be delicious on many veggies, so feel free to be creative. 

Mo's Sichuan Asparagus 
Serves 2-3

Sichuan Sauce Ingredients: 
3 Tablespoons Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 teaspoons Chinkiang Vinegar (learn about it HERE.) or 2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
Sichuan Sauce Coming Together, Photo: NK
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/4 teaspoon Cornstarch 
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper, or more to taste

Additional Ingredients:
2 Lemons, sliced into rounds
1 Bunch of Asparagus 
1 pinch of Oil, for pan
Optional - 1 package Uncle Ben's Ready Rice - Brown Rice that microwaves in only 90 seconds. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Lightly oil a pan and place the Asparagus in a row. 
Lay Lemon Slices over the Asparagus until completely covered.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. 

To prepare Sichuan Sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. 
Warm the Sichuan Sauce in a pan. 
Once the Asparagus is done add it to the pan and toss together with the Sichuan Sauce. The Sichuan Sauce is on the sweet side so you may want to add it slowly, adjusting the amount to your tastes. 
If you are preparing the rice, place it in the microwave now. 
Serve with Brown Rice on the side. 

Mo's Lighter Kung Pao Shrimp 
Serves 2  

1 teaspoon Canola Oil
5-8 Dried Chili Peppers - I used 8, because Sam likes her Kung Pao spicy...
1 Tablespoon Dry Sherry, Cooking Sherry, or Shaoxing Wine
1/2 teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Minced Ginger or 1 teaspoon Ginger Powder
1 Lb Peeled Raw Shrimp, tail on, deveined
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Chopped Scallion (we didn't have Scallion so I used Celery and it was just fine)
1 Tablespoon Chopped Peanuts

In a bowl, combine Sherry, Cornstarch, Garlic, Ginger, and Shrimp together.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the Canola Oil over medium heat.
Add Dried Chili Peppers and stir. Cook until slightly blackened. 

Next, add the contents of the Shrimp Bowl to the wok. 
Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low. 

Add Sugar and Soy Sauce. 
Cook, stirring occasionally, another 5 minutes.
Remove the wok from the heat.

Stir in Sesame Oil, Scallion, and Peanuts.

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