Kung Pao Chicken – Gluten Free

A frustrating fact about going gluten free is the insane amount of food that contains gluten. I’ve discovered that wheat is used in so many products as filler; and many of my favourite condiments contain some form of gluten, whether it be barley, wheat, spelt or rye. Some main offenders are soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and many pre-made chicken and beef stocks. So now I’ve become one of those obsessive people who looks at every label; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can sense the sneers I get at the grocery store from carefree shoppers.

Luckily grocery stores are wising up to the prevalence of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease, so it’s much easier to find gluten-free goods – even up here in the Great White North. It’s funny how I’ve never noticed them until I started rooting around the aisles for various products.  My mother even thought that there was some sort of “special” on the gluten-free products because she noticed that one local store had tons of “Gluten-Free” labels up the week I informed her of my upcoming diet change. I told her I had also, just noticed them, but that I suspected they were there all along. This was indeed the case because 3 weeks later the store still has the signs up.

Enough with this babbling though. I’m sure everyone who has gone gluten-free is bored by the above paragraphs, as you’ve already done your research, and now you’re just here for the food. So here’s a gluten-free & peanut-free take on Kung Pao Chicken (which I am sure to get lots of flack about for omitting the peanuts & fresh chilis). It’s not unlike other recipes for Kung Pao Chicken, I’m just being cognizant of the products in Asian cooking that typically contain gluten (and there’s a lot…so beware).

(Gluten Free) Kung Pao Chicken

I’ve been making Kung Pao Chicken for years, so I don’t really remember where I originally got the recipe from. I’m going to guess Company’s Coming if I think back on the time of my life when I started making this dish. Since those were the books my mom had lining her kitchen shelf while I was growing up, my cookbook collection started out the same. Feel free to add roasted peanuts or cashews to your dish if you like. And no, this isn’t a traditional Kung Pao Chicken, but it’s a great version of it, so don’t be a hater until you try it. 

1 lb chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and/or breast)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbsp chicken stock (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sambal oelek

Peanut oil
1 galic clove, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 cups chopped vegetables – peppers, onions, mushrooms (I cheat here and just buy the pre-chopped packs at the store)
4 green onions, sliced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir in the cornstarch, soy sauce, 5-spice powder and garlic – ensure all the chicken is evenly coated. Set Aside.

To prepare the sauce (so it’s ready when you begin stir-frying) combine the chicken stock, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, corn starch, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat up a wok (or large sauté pan) over medium-high heat (but more on the high side). Pour 1 tsp of peanut oil in the wok; when it is hot, stir in a third of the chicken and sauté until cooked – about 3-4 minutes. Scoop the chicken into a clean bowl and repeat with the remaining chicken (you want to cook the chicken in batches in order to saute it rather than steam it).

When all the chicken is cooked, heat up another 1 tbsp of peanut oil. Add the garlic, chili flakes and fennel seeds and saute for 30 seconds (careful! The garlic will burn quickly). Toss in the chopped peppers, onion, and mushrooms and saute for another 3-4 minutes until the veggies are cooked, but still crisp. Add the cooked chicken to the wok, then stir the sauce and pour it over the entire dish. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir everything to combine.

Serve hot or at room temperature with rice. Top with cilantro and onions to serve or let people top their own dishes.

Serves 4-6.


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  1. #1 by Janice on May 19, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    Hi Gena. Try Mrs. Bragg’s soy sauce. It is 100% soy and delicious in soups, stir try’s, most anything! And gluten free.

  2. #2 by Gorging George on May 21, 2012 - 1:01 am

    Thanks Janice! I actually grabbed some a few weeks ago and used it in this recipe. It’s very tasty!

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