Kung Pao king oyster mushroom is a must-try dish for those vegan spicy food lovers. Kung pao chicken is the most popular Szechuan dish outside China. In China, we get a large group of dishes using Kung Pao sauce, for example, Kung Pao tofu, Kung Pao fish, Kung Pao sweet potato, and Kung Pao Shrimp. Then I love to introduce this new version of Kung Pao mushrooms using king oyster mushrooms.
King Oyster Mushroom
King oyster mushroom is a very interesting ingredient. If well cooked, it can present a very similar texture and even better flavor than meat. In Chinese, we get a lovely name to describe this feature "Chicken leg mushrooms". Previously, I pan-fried them with spices. It gets lots of positive feedback. Compared with meat, mushrooms are even easier to cook becomes no marinating process is needed. And I find it is the ideal ingredient for kung pao dishes. So I highly recommend beginners try this one, this is the ideal vegan kung pao choice.
The Kung Pao Flavor
Kung Pao sauce is one of the popular home-style sauces in Szechuan cuisine. Kung pao sauce has two layers of flavor, one is from spices and the other one is from a balanced flavor bought by soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Firstly, we fry garlic, ginger, and scallion with dried red pepper. This taste is called “胡辣味”， which means fried chili pepper taste. To get this unique taste, the dried chili pepper should be fried until slightly darken red to bring the right flavor.
The second layer is a balanced savory taste made from sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce with starch. Starch works as a thickener and helps the sauce stick to the ingredient. Before making any kong pao dishes, prepare the sauce in advance and let all the ingredients combine together.
Here are some of the important ingredients which are essential to this authentic version of the kung pao dish:
- King oyster mushroom- you can choose the larger ones or smaller Japanese ones. But the small Japanese one tastes much more tender.
- Chinese large green onion (大葱) or large scallion is a thick, large scallion- It has a much larger white portion at the base. You may find they look similar to leeks but it is much more tender and juicy. You can use a scallion to replace it but remember only use the white part.
- Sichuan peppercorns - this is the special ingredient in kung pao dishes, which yields both numbing sensation and spicy flavors to kung pao chicken.
- Dried chili peppers - the red color and spicy taste of dried chili pepper are essential elements of kung pao dishes.
- Crispy Peanuts - crispy peanuts give a crunchy texture to the kung pao chicken dish. The peanuts can be deep-fried or fried with salt. Or you can simply use store-bought crispy peanuts.
- Garlic and ginger - garlic and ginger give kung pao dishes a strong and rich aroma.
- Vinegar - I use black vinegar. You can mix with two types of vinegar or replace this with other vinegar on hand.
- Light soy sauce- adding the unami flavor and a basic savory taste.
- Dark soy sauce- darken the color of the kung pao dishes.
- Sugar- for the sweet flavor
- Salt and white pepper- as needed
- cornstarch- to thicken the sauce so it can wrap on the ingredients
Prepare kung pao sauce by mixing all seasonings together in a small bowl. Cut chili pepper into sections, and prepare all other aromatics.
In a wok, add oil and fry half of the onion sections, dried chili pepper, ginger, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorn with slow fire until aromatic.
Add mushroom in. Fry for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms become soft. At the first, the mushroom dice will absorb the flavor and oil quickly, slowing down your fire to avoid burning.
Pour the mixed sauce. Mix well and make sure all the cubes are well coated by the sauce. Still, remember to re-stir the sauce before using it.
Then add toasted peanuts and the left onion sections. We still want to keep the crispness of the peanuts.
Give a big stir fry to mix everything together. Transfer out and serve hot.
What to serve with
All kung pao dishes are quite strong in flavor, so match them with plain staple food like steamed rice, steamed buns, or noodles. Besides, light soups like egg drop soup and lotus root soup can also be used to make a complete meal.
Kung Pao Mushroom
- 2 king oyster mushrooms , or 4 smaller ones
- ½ cup of toasted or fried skinless peanuts
- 2 Chinese large onions , only white part, cut into small pieces around 1cm thick
- 6-10 dried chili peppers , cut into sections
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 tbsp. whole Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 inch ginger , cut into small cubes
- 3 garlic cloves , cut into small cubes
Bowl Kong Pao Sauce
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- ½ tsp. salt or to taste
- ½ tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. vinegar
- 2 tbsp. water
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Prepare kung pao sauce by mixing all seasonings together in a small bowl. Cut chili pepper into sections, prepare other aromatics.
- In a wok, add oil and fry half of onion sections, dried chili pepper, ginger, garlic and Sichuan peppercorn with slow fire until aromatic.
- Add mushroom in. Fry for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms becomes soft. Use slow fire to avoid burning at the frist 2 minutes.
- Stir the Kong Pao sauce once again and pour in. Mix well and make sure all the cubes are well coated by sauce.
- Add toasted peanuts and the left onion sections.Give a big stir fry to mix everything together. Transfer out and serve hot.