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Kung Pao fish provides plenty of protein, healthy fat

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This dish keeps the main flavors of traditional Kung Pao, but swaps out fried chicken or shrimp for pan-seared fish, which means the protein comes with healthier fat.

Building a repertoire of fast, tasty and healthy versions of the family’s favorite dishes is my strategy for avoiding ordering fast food simply because I’m so hungry that I no longer care what I eat as long as it’s quick.

But what if there was a way to incorporate some drool-worthy takeout indulgences into a normal weeknight menu? Kung Pao Fish scratches the itch of the Chinese takeout craving, but for a fraction of the calories, fat and cost.

I keep the main flavors of traditional Kung Pao, but swap out fried chicken or shrimp for pan-seared fish, which means the protein comes with healthier fat. I keep the fillets whole, which means the fish stays together better, and no time is lost on cubing meat. Then I bulk up the dish with quick-cooking and healthy mushrooms and peppers.

Small tweaks make this recipe weeknight-speedy and weeknight-healthy, too.

KUNG PAO FISH

  • 6 fillets of firm fish (2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper (red, orange or yellow preferred)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, shelled
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish, optional
  • >> Sauce
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Heat a large nonstick saute pan on medium high. Drizzle soy sauce over both sides of fillets; gently pat away excess with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornstarch lightly over both sides of fish, and gently pat away or brush away any excess.

Place neutral oil in pan, and once hot, cook fish just until golden brown and cooked through, turning once, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to warm plate.

Whisk sauce ingredients together in small bowl; set aside.

Add sesame oil, mushrooms and sliced peppers to pan and cook a minute or two until vegetables begin to soften. Add peanuts and half the green onion and cook another minute.

Pour sauce from bowl into pan. It will thicken almost immediately. Stir and remove from heat. Spoon sauce and vegetables over the fish, and sprinkle with remaining green onion and cilantro, if using. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 202 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 318 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 31 g protein.

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