Vegetarian Kung Pao

An all-vegetarian version of a classic Chinese-menu staple. Delectable crispy chunks of seitan (wheat gluten) stir fried with cabbage, hot peppers, and peanuts in tangy sauce. SPECIFY VEGETARIAN WHEN ORDERING Lunch $8.99 Dinner $16.99

This “recipe” was taken from a document called “Line Recipes.” This was a two page cheat-sheet to help the chefs make the most common dishes. The ingredients are listed in the order used to prepare the dish. I have yet to locate a recipe card for this (or the Kung Pao Chicken).

Line Recipe

  • Oil
  • Garlic, sambal, p-nuts
  • Whole chilies
  • Red & green cabbage
  • Kung Pao Sauce
  • Seitan
  • Spice w/ sambal ***
  • Rice: 1 side Thai plate

Note: garlic and ginger always forkful

See Also

3 thoughts on “Vegetarian Kung Pao

  1. I mostly remember this. I think the garlic and sambal were each about 0.5 – 1 Tbsp, peanuts were semi-crushed and about a half handful, maybe 2-4 whole dry chilis (depending how hot you want it), red and green cabbage were equal parts about 1 handful each (the slices were long and thin, around 3-5mm wide). I’m not sure what the “Spice w/ sambal***” refers to. I believe it was served on an oval plate with rice on 1/3 and the other 2/3 was the kung pao. Probably thin sliced rounds of scallion on top.

    Cooking it was very quick. Maybe 20 seconds for the oil, garlic, sambal, and peanuts — 1 to 2 min for the cabbage — then add seitan and sauce — mix well, make sure it’s bubbly and steaming, then serve immediately. Remember, the woks at the Five Spice were on huge BTU industrial burners. The vast majority of people don’t have anything even 2/3 as hot at home, so you might have to add a minute or two to the cook time. The important thing is to not cook the cabbage too much. You want it just to the point where it’s halfway crunchy and halfway soft when it’s plated, otherwise it will be too soggy by the time the customer takes the first bite.

    This is from when I worked there for ~8 months 20 years ago so my memory could be off, but this was one of my favorite “staff meals” back then! (along with the House Red Snapper, which I ate frequently even though I was vegetarian).

    Shout out to the BOH crew from back then if any of you read this: Ian, Ernest, John B, Jen, Evan, and Tad (?) the kid who came in and cut chicken like a madman every once in a while.

    I moved away from Vermont shortly after quitting my job there, but I never ever forgot it. The Five Spice was the most memorable job I ever had, and that was all because of Jerry. I was fortunate to see him in 2014 when I passed through Burlington on a road trip and we talked for over an hour, reminiscing about the cafe and him hand-gesturing to the piles of books and paperwork around him saying “I have all those fuckin recipes around here somewhere. If I ever find ’em, I’ll send copies to ya!”

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  2. Also the seitan and mock duck came in a blue can with red kanji . You can get it at any Asian market. The seitan is actually called “mock abalone”. Wu Chung and Companion are the brands — as far as I can tell, they’re exactly the same. If my memory is correct, we simply drained it, tossed it with plain white flour, deep fried it until medium-brown, and stored it on layers of paper towels. When it cooled to room temp, we put it in the fridge until we needed it.

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