Scratch the itch of Asian take­out crav­ing with Kung Pao Cod recipe

The Citizens' Voice - - Food - BY MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

Eat­ing healthy doesn’t mean there isn’t room for oc­ca­sional treats like Chi­nese take­out or a drive-thru for our fa­vorite one-of-akind cheese­burger. As long as we keep th­ese kinds of meals re­served for true crav­ings, not con­ve­nience, then I can prob­a­bly keep our healthy eat­ing in check.

For reg­u­lar week­nights, build­ing up a reper­toire of fast, tasty and healthy ver­sions of the fam­ily’s fa­vorite dishes is the best strat­egy to avoid or­der­ing fast food sim­ply be­cause I’m so hun­gry I no longer care what you eat as long as it’s quick.

What if there was a way to in­cor­po­rate some of th­ese drool-wor­thy in­dul­gences into a nor­mal week­night menu? Kung Pao Cod 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 cod, , which means lots of pro­tein comes with health­ier fat. I keep the cod in whole fil­let form, which means the fish stays to­gether bet­ter, and no time is lost on cub­ing meat. I pansear the fil­lets and then pour the sauce over the fish just be­fore serv­ing. The mild fish takes on the com­plex fla­vors read­ily, even with­out the typ­i­cal mar­i­nat­ing of Kung Pao.

To add even more nu­tri­ents, I bulk up the dish with quick-cook­ing and healthy mush­rooms and pep­pers. And the sauce is sim­pli­fied to save time: I whisk all the in­gre­di­ents into one bowl and dump it all at once into the pan, and cook it only for a minute or so. Small tweaks make this recipe weeknight­speedy and weeknighthealthy, too.

Kung pao cod

Serv­ings: 6 Start to fin­ish: 25 min­utes 6 fil­lets of cod, or other firm

fish about 2 pounds to­tal 1 ta­ble­spoon re­duced sodium soy sauce 1 tea­spoon corn­starch 2 tea­spoons neu­tral oil, like

grape­seed oil 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 fresh

gin­ger 4 cloves gar­lic, minced 1/4-1/2 tea­spoon (to taste) red pep­per flakes (or Szechuan sea­son­ing, or chili paste)

Heat a large non­stick saute pan on medium high heat. On a cut­ting board or plate, driz­zle the ta­ble­spoon of soy sauce over both sides of the cod fil­lets, and gen­tly pat away the ex­cess with a pa­per towel. Sprin­kle the corn­starch over both sides of the fish, and gen­tly pat away or brush away any ex­cess. (They should barely be dusted with corn­starch.) Place the neu­tral oil in the pan, and once hot, cook the cod just un­til golden brown and cooked through, turn­ing once, about 4 min­utes per side.

Mean­while, whisk all the sauce in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a small bowl and set aside. Re­move cod from heat and set aside on a warm plate. Add the se­same oil, mush­rooms and sliced pep­pers to the pan and cook a minute or two un­til veg­eta­bles be­gin to soften. Add the peanuts and half of the green onion and cook an­other minute.

Pour all of the sauce in­gre­di­ents from the bowl into the pan. It will thicken al­most im­me­di­ately. Stir and re­move from heat. Spoon the Kung Pao sauce over the fish to serve, and sprin­kle with re­main­ing green onion and cilantro, if us­ing.

Nutri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 202 calo­ries; 47 calo­ries from fat; 5 g fat (1 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg choles­terol; 318 mg sodium; 8 g car­bo­hy­drate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 31 g pro­tein.

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