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Kung Pao Scallops

Spicy with lots of peanuts, this Kung Pao really packs a punch with a kick!

Kung Pao Scallops

Kung Pao is a favorite Chinese takeout dish, but it's just as easy, even faster, and a lot more healthy to make it at home. A bit of heat and peanuts are a must, but the protein and vegetable choices are yours to make. This recipe features sea scallops, asparagus spears, and bell peppers. Bay scallops would work just as well, as would medium shrimp. If asparagus are not your favorite, string beans or green peppers are good substitutes.

Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; small whisk or spoon; wok or nonstick sauté pan; wooden spoon or paddle


1 pound sea scallops

¼ cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 bunch asparagus

1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow)

6 scallions

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided

1 tablespoon minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, finely minced ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch* kosher salt to taste

“Chili Onion Crunch is a spicy condiment sold at Trader Joe's. If you don't have access to buy this magical ingredient, you can make it easily by combining ¼ cup vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of toasted minced onion, 1 tablespoon toasted minced dried garlic, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon paprika, and a generous pinch of salt. Store in a sealed glass jar at room temperature.”

1. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and set aside. Combine the soy and hoisin in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Trim 1-2 inches from the ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus stalks into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Trim the pepper to remove and discard the seeds. Cut the pepper into ½-inch squares and set aside. Trim the scallions of their roots to discard. Chop the scallions from the white up to the light green and set aside (discard the dark green tops).

ILOC tip: skinny asparagus are ideal for this dish, but any size asparagus will work.

3. Heat a wok or non-stick skillet over high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the scallops, in batches if necessary, and sear the scallops 1 minute per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

4. Return the wok to medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the asparagus and peppers and stir fry until they begin to brighten and soften, about two minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir fry for about one minute more, until fragrant. Add the sauce mixture and mix well to coat. Stir in the scallops, the Chili Onion Crunch, and the peanuts. Season with salt to taste.

5. Serve immediately over steamed rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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