It must be Taco Week here at BistroBess! Today I have another spin on classic tacos, this time with an Asian flair.
Fusing the classic Mexican taco with ingredients from other countries, particularly Korea and other parts of Asia, is a big culinary trend right now. Many credit this to the popularity of food trucks, which use the portable taco as the perfect vehicle to deliver a variety of flavors. One of my favorites here in DC is TaKorean, which I recommend you seek out for lunch some day soon.
These Kung Pao tacos are packing some heat, thanks to a healthy dose of fresh chile paste. Sambal Oelek is available at most grocery stores in the Asian section. It can be potent, so use with caution!
Kung Pao Chicken Tacos
adapted from Cooking Light
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 TB lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 1/2 TBs canola oil, divided
- 1 1/2 TB honey
- 1 TB dark sesame oil
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 TB sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste). This makes the tacos quite spicy. If you prefer less spice, start with 1 tsp and go from there
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions, about two large
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, diagonally sliced (or about 10-12 baby carrots)
- 3 TB coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
- corn tortillas, warmed in the oven or in a dry skillet
Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. While chicken marinates, combine 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Set aside for later use.
Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from bag and add to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of coated chicken; sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and coated chicken. Set chicken aside.
With the heat still on medium high, add remaining canola oil, if needed. Add onion, pepper and carrot and sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Put chicken back in the pan, stir in soy sauce mixture. Sauce should thicken up and coat the chicken and veggies.
Top heated tortillas with the chicken and veggie mixture. Sprinkle on chopped peanuts and garnish with extra green onions, if desired.