Friday, November 17, 2017

Korean Style Kung Pau Chicken or Korean Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

It's funny, but I cooked in the restaurant for more than 18 years and we have been eating low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) for more than a year, and still my wife brings me new recipes to try. Heck, I think she has looked at just about every LCHF / Keto blog but mine when she is looking for recipes. Many of the recipes she brings me claim they are “low carb”, but when I look at the nutritional information (if it's there) I am often disappointed. So I am left to go and modify these recipes to make them fit our unique nutritional needs.

This particular recipe started out as 'Kung Pao Chicken' from the keto blog 'Ruled-Me'. They actually do a pretty good job presenting a variety of low carbohydrate recipes, so go and check them out. Having said that, there were quite a few ingredients that were in the original recipe from their blog that we did not have, but have no fear, as a former professional chef, being able to make substitutions to form variations of specific dishes is something I was trained to do.

While I have quite a good stock of basic Asian ingredients in my pantry, I did not have and garlic chili paste, so it was time for a substitution. because my niece is from Korea, I have built quite a good stock pile of Korean spices and seasoning's. I mention this because while this recipe started out as 'Kung Pao Chicken' it morphed into a Korean spicy chicken stir fry version of this dish. In Korea, this dish would be similar to 'Dak Galbi' or spicy chicken stir fry. A traditional version of this dish would have quite a bit more red pepper paste (gochujang) and more red pepper powder (gochujang) but I have toned down this dish to make it more agreeable to my wife's particular tastes. So let's get on with making a spicy Korean style Kung Pao Chicken.

The Recipe

As mentioned, the original recipe for this dish came from the keto site Ruled Me, and you can find their recipe by clicking on the link at the end of this article. I have added a few vegetables and of course the sauce has been changed by the substitution of Korean red pepper paste as well as tomato sauce for the garlic chili sauce and the reduced sugar ketchup. While the changes may seem minor, they change the flavor profile of the dish entirely. This dish calls for 16 ounces (1lb) of de-boned chicken thighs so the number of thighs required varies between 4 to 6 thighs. The nutritional information however is for 16 ounces of thigh meat with the skin on.

4 chicken thighs (16 ounces), deboned, skin on
2 green onions
1 medium carrot, julienned
½ cup green bell pepper, large dice
½ cup onion, large dice
¼ cup peanuts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

The Sauce

2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar with the Mother
1 teaspoon Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
1 teaspoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
½ teaspoon maple extract
3 drops liquid sucralose

Combine all the ingredients for your sauce in a small bowl and set aside for later use.

De-bone and cut up the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and saute until the chicken has browned and is thoroughly cooked (this should take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces). Remove the chicken from the heat to a plate or bowl and begin to stir fry the vegetables.

Chef's Note: If you do not have any ginger paste, you can season the chicken thighs with powdered ginger or Chinese five spice powder, or you can simply omit this if you wish. If you like your food with a bit more bite, increase the red pepper paste (gochujang) to 2 teaspoons, and or season the chicken with some red pepper powder (flakes). Just note that increasing the amount of red pepper pastes or adding red pepper powder it will change the nutritional information of the dish.

If you left the skin on the thighs (which you should), then there should be plenty of good delicious fat in which to stir fry the vegetables (onions, bell peppers, and carrot). If you did not leave the skin on, or you decided to use chicken breast instead, then add a small amount of coconut oil and stir fry your veggies just until the onions begin to turn translucent. Then remove the cooked vegetables to the plate or bowl which contains the chicken.

Once all of your vegetables are cooked, examine your skillet or saute pan, remove all of the fat except for 1 teaspoon. Then return the chicken and the vegetables to the pan and add your sauce and the peanuts and stir everything together. Bring the dish to a slight boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced slightly. Garnish with spring onions and serve.

Chef's Note: Sesame oil can be overpowering for some palates, and a little goes along way. The original sauce recipe called for 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, but we have found that we like a little less sesame oil in our sauce. If you like the smoky flavor of sesame oil, then remove all of the oil from the pan except ½ teaspoon and increase the sesame oil in the sauce to 1 teaspoon.

Total Recipe
Calories – 1746, fat 110 grams, protein 156 grams, carbohydrates 22 grams

Per Serving (4 servings)
Calories – 436, fat 28 grams, protein 39 grams, carbohydrates 5.5 grams

Making Your Dish Go Farther

While we generally just make this dish as is, and eat it without noodles. If you want to increase the bulk of this recipe without adding a significant amount of carbohydrates or calories, then you can add ½ head of a small cabbage shredded to the dish when you cook the other vegetables. Adding cabbage does increase the bulk or amount of the dish giving you more servings, but it also increases the overall carbohydrate count.

Cabbage (½ Head)
Calories – 109, fat 0.5 grams, protein 6.5 grams, carbohydrates 15 grams

Total Recipe w/Cabbage
Calories – 1855, fat 111 grams, protein 162 grams, carbohydrates 37 grams

Per Serving w/Cabbage (6 servings)
Calories – 309, fat 18.5 grams, protein 27 grams, carbohydrates 6.1 grams

Per Serving w/Cabbage (8 servings)
Calories – 235, fat 13.8 grams, protein 20.25 grams, carbohydrates 4.6 grams


Many times a recipe starts out as one thing and slowly morphs it's way into something else, that's how creativity in the kitchen works. This particular recipe that my wife loves started out as another version of Kung Pao Chicken, and it became an amalgam or fusion of Chinese-American and Korean food. Or in simpler terms, a Chinese-American recipe made with Korean ingredients. I realize that many of you will not have some of these ingredients in your pantry, but if you have the opportunity to visit a local Asian market that carries a variety of ingredients from other countries, I encourage you to purchase and try Korean Red Pepper (gochujang) paste in some of your recipes.

Eating a LCHF / Keto diet never has to be boring. What you do need to know how to do is make simple substitutions that can change a recipe that is high in carbohydrates to one that is low in carbohydrates, and that is the goal of most of my articles. For Chinese-American foods, most often this is a matter of finding a substitute for the sugary sauces used in their preparation. This recipe is no different, omitting the sugar for liquid sucralose removes the majority of the carbohydrates in this dish. The only carbohydrates remaining come primarily from the vegetables (12 grams) and the peanuts (4.95 grams). The sauce for the whole recipes only contains 5.3 grams of carbohydrates (tomato sauce 1.5 grams, red pepper paste 3 grams, soy sauce 0.8 grams). Depending on the portion size this dish comes out to somewhere between 5 – 7 carbohydrates per serving. Remember we are eating low carb, not no carb!

Anyway, as always, I hope that you have found this information informative and useful. If so I ask that you share it with your friends and family as well as sharing it on other social media platforms. Don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook at CulinaryyouLCHF, or add us to your circle of friends on Google+. You can also click on the 'Follow Us' button on this blog page so that you will be notified when the newest recipes become available.

Final Chef's Note: The original recipe that I started with called for an 2 tablespoons of chili garlic paste, but I substituted Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) If you do not have any Korean red pepper paste, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper for the Korean red pepper paste.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Xanthan Gum: A LCHF / Keto Thickener

When it comes to making sauces and soups at home, most home cooks use cornstarch (6 carbs per tablespoon), arrowroot (1 carb per tablespoon), and or potato starch (7 carbs per tablespoon) as thickeners. Of the three, cornstarch is the cheapest, most readily available, and therefore the most common. Made from corn, it of course contains carbohydrates, not a lot mind you, but enough to make a difference, especially if you are on a strict low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet. While there are a few slight instances when I will still use a minimal amount of cornstarch as a breading or coating enhancer, like many LCHF / Keto devotees, I stared using xanthan gum (7 carbs per tablespoon) as my thickener of choice. At first glance, xanthan gum seems like a poor choice for a LCHF / Keto diet thickener as 1 tablespoon contains 7 to 8 grams of carbohydrates, however, it also contains 7 to 8 grams of fiber, which means that it is not absorbed by the gut making it zero net carbs. Since it is zero net carbs, it is an excellent LCHF / Keto thickener. Having said that, what exactly is xanthan gum?

Xanthan gum is a thickener used in many commercial sauces that you find on your grocers shelves, most commonly salad dressings and sauces. It is very popular among the gluten free community to give some body to baked goods that are made with non-gluten flours (almond, coconut, etc.) for people who are gluten intolerant. Of all the common thickening agents it is probably the most expensive, but a little xanthan gum goes a long way. Most often xanthan gum comes in a powdered form, but a few manufacturers offer it in a granular form, but they are both used in the same fashion. The xanthan gum I use which I purchased at Walmart comes in small 1 tablespoon packets, but it is available in bulk on the internet.

In the medical field in which I work, xanthan gum is used in products designed to thicken liquids for patients with dysphagia (trouble swallowing). Two of the brands that I have personally seen are 'Thick-it Clear Advantage', and 'ThickenUp Clear'. It should be noted that these products also generally contain a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and maltodextrin (for bulk to make measurement easier), therefore larger quantities are needed to thicken liquids. You should not be using these thickeners, so if you have a family member that is using any of these, leave them alone, the maltodextrin contains too many additional carbohydrates. The xanthan gum that we will be using to thicken liquids should not have either of these ingredients. In fact, the only ingredients listed on the package should be xanthan gum. So now that you know what xanthan gum is, let's see how to use it.

Measuring Xanthan Gum By Weight (Most Accurate)

The most accurate way to add xanthan gum to a liquid is to do so by first weighing the amount of liquid you want to thicken, determine how thick you want the liquid, and then add the appropriate amount of xanthan gum by weight. Generally, less than 0.5% per weight of the liquid is required to achieve the desired thickness of most liquids. I have included the most common percentages per weight of the thickening power of xanthan gum to achieve a desired thickness of a sauce. This is of course subjective, but it is a good starting point.

An emulsion: 0.1% (0.225 grams of xanthan gum)
Light or thin sauce: 0.1 – 0.3% (0.225 – 0.675 grams of xanthan gum)
Medium or moderately thick sauce 0.3 – 0.6% (0.675 – 1.35 grams of xanthan gum)
Heavy or thick sauce: 0.7 – 1% (1.575 – 2.25 grams of xanthan gum)

For example: One cup of water (8 ounces per volume) weighs 8.3 ounces per weight or 225 grams. Therefore if you are making a light sauce, you would use: 0.225 – 0.675 grams (225 x 0.1% = 0.225) of xanthan gum. For a medium or thicker sauce, you would use: 0.675 – 1.35 grams of xanthan gum, and for a thick or heavy sauce, you would use 1.575 – 2.25 grams of xanthan gum.

Measuring Xanthan Gum Using Household Measurements (Least Accurate, but Most Common)

Because many home cooks here in the United States do not have a scale that weighs in grams and even when they do, many prefer to use common household measurements. I am no different, even though I have a scale that weighs in grams, I use common household measurements simply because it is fast and efficient and I have the experience of thickening liquids after cooking for eighteen years in a professional kitchen. Therefore, for those of you who want to use common household measuring spoons, I have included the following information to help give you a starting point to help you thicken your sauces using xanthan gum.

1 teaspoon weighs about 2.5 grams
¾ teaspoon weighs about 1.875 grams
½ teaspoon weighs about 1.25 grams
¼ teaspoon weighs about 0.625 grams
1/8 teaspoon weighs about 0.3125 grams

When using common household measuring spoons, I would start with the spoon size slightly smaller than the thickness of the sauce that you desire. This allows you to add some additional xanthan gum as needed just in case your sauce is slightly thinner than you desire. It is always easier to thicken a sauce by adding more xanthan gum, than it is to thin a sauce that is too thick. The following measurements will thicken 1 cup of liquid to the follow states. Keep in mind that the thickness of your sauce can be subjective, or a matter of perspective, but I have tried to include the best descriptors that I can.

1 teaspoon, really thick or heavy sauce, almost pudding like consistency.
3/4 teaspoon, creates a thick or heavy sauce, similar to a blond roux.
1/2 teaspoon, creates a medium thick sauce, that pours in dollops.
3/8 teaspoon, creates a medium sauce, similar to pancake syrup.
1/4 teaspoon, creates a medium thin sauce that just coats the back of a spoon.
1/8 teaspoon, creates a very light or thin sauce, similar to a lite syrup.

Using these household measurements may create a sauce that is slightly less thick than if you measured out the xanthan gum by weight, but you can always add a little more a pinch or sprinkle at a time depending on your preference. When using this method, whatever the size of the teaspoon (1, ¾, ½, ¼, or 1/8th), try and use a level amount of xanthan gum per measuring spoon to insure the most accurate measures.

Chef's Note: When using xanthan gum, I combine all of my sauce ingredients in the bowl first, then start adding the xanthan gum 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time. Allow the xanthan gum to sit for 1 – 2 minutes to give it time to come to it's full thickening potential before adding additional gum as needed.

Putting It All Together

While xanthan gum is a great thickener, but when not used carefully, your sauce can get lumpy. So in this section of the article I am going to share a few techniques that I use to avoid creating a lumpy sauce. First, and foremost, do not dump the entire contents of the xanthan gum into your sauce at one time as it will definitely clump, and leave you with little blobs of varying size ruining your sauce. Xanthan gum needs to be added in small amounts so that it can be totally incorporated into the liquid in order to reach it's potential thickening powder. The following steps or techniques are the ones that I use in order to make sure my sauces and soups are nice and thick and not clumpy.

Technique Number 1 – When making a small amount of sauce (1 to 2 cups) I mix my sauce by hand starting out using 1/8 measurements at a time. This may take more time, but it does help to get the xanthan gum more even distributed when mixing. I hold the measuring spoon with one hand at about a 45 degree angle over the bowl containing my liquid and lightly tap it with my finger, while mixing the sauce in the bowl with a wire whip. This method works almost flawlessly, but requires a little dexterity.

Technique Number 2 – When making large amounts of sauce, I prefer is to get my immersion blender and place it in the pot or saucepan of the liquid to be thickened and start the blender, then slowly add the measured out amount of powdered xanthan gum needed to thicken my liquid. Using this method, I have the least clumping issues as the xanthan gum generally gets totally incorporated before it has time to clump up, but it still happens on occasion. If you decide to use this method when blending hot liquids you must take extra precaution as you can easily get burned.

Technique Number 3 – Not really a separate technique, but more of a process. When making soups or stews which require thickening, I make a one cup batch of heavy sauce and add it to the soup or stew as opposed to trying to thicken the soup or stew after it has been cooked. This technique works especially well for gumbos and chowders which require thickening. The amount of heavy sauce that you add to the soup, gumbo, or stew depends on how thick you want your final product to be.

There are probably many other tips and techniques on the world wide web on using xanthan gum, but these three are the ones that I use whenever I need to use xanthan gum to thicken a liquid. While they work extremely well, I realize that they are not the only viable methods, so experiment and find out what works best for you.

Chef's Note: Almost all of the sauces that we made in the restaurant that required arrowroot, cornstarch, potato starch or other thickening agents were strained through a cheesecloth to ensure that it was super smooth regardless of the talent of the chef. At home I never do this, but comfort cooking is defiantly different than professional cooking. My point being, if your sauce has small lumps then simply strain them out with a small strainer, that's what the professionals do.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort (A side note)

Xanthan gum is an effective laxative (it has about 7 grams of fiber per tablespoon), and some people are more sensitive to it than others. Users on some of the gluten free and Ketogenic / LCHF forums mention it's laxative effect, and some have complained of a bloating feeling. Used in larger quantities, xanthan gum is defiantly an effective laxative, but when used in small quantities such as when making sauces, most people show not signs of these effects. Personally, I have, nor have any of my family had any of these experiences, but that doesn't mean that yours will not.


Used not only in commercial sauces as a thickening agent, xanthan gum has been used in the medical field for some time as a thickening agent for patient's suffering from dysphagia. Because all of the carbohydrates from xanthan gum come from fiber, it is not digested by the gastrointestinal (GI) system making it essentially carbohydrate free. So if you are looking for a LCHF / Keto thickening agent for your sauces, soups, chowders and stews that will not kick you out of ketosis, then xanthan gum just may be for you. While in rare cases some individuals may have some slight GI discomfort, the majority of people who use xanthan gum do not experience any of these effects.

As always, I hope that you have found this information informative and useful. If so I ask that you share it with your friends and family as well as sharing it on other social media platforms. Don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook at CulinaryyoULCHF, or add us to your circle of friends on Google+. You can also click on the 'Follow Us' button on this blog page so that you will be notified when the newest recipes become available.


10 Facts About Xanthan Gum,, Accessed May 10, 2017

How To Use Xanthan Gum, Amazing Food Made Easy, Accessed May 11, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Instantpot LCHF / Keto Hot Wings

 There was a time when I was growing up that, chicken wings were the part of the chicken that no one wanted to buy. Like skirt steak (now used for fajitas), chicken wings were the cheap leftovers. Fast forward thirty years and chicken wings are as popular as hamburgers and french fries, and they now command a premium price as well. If you have read any of my articles and or recipes, then you know that we raise not only chickens but meat rabbits on our small homestead. And before you ask, no rabbit doesn't taste like chicken. Having said that, when you dress out a rabbit, each carcass presents you with two forelegs that are very similar in size and weight as a chicken wing.

In fact, you can cut the forelegs at the joint, and they are not only very similar in size to chicken wings, but they can be cooked in exactly the same way. So whenever we butcher some of our rabbits, we separate the forelegs and vacuum seal them by themselves so that we can prepare rabbit forelegs (hot wings) whenever we get the hankering for some hot wings. Having said that, if you do not raise rabbit and want to cook some great chicken wings, then you can follow this same recipe and simply substitute chicken wings in place of the rabbit forelegs.

As you may know, my wife and I have embarked on a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) way of eating about a year ago. The great thing about this recipe is that is a great LCHF / Ketogenic way to cook not only chicken wings, but rabbit forelegs. Because we do not use any flour or other ingredients other than the sauce (hot sauce and butter) to coat the meat, they are virtually carbohydrate free! Keep in mind that if you use any commercially prepared sauces they may have hidden carbs in the form of sugar and or sugar alcohols. You can find a number of LCHF sauce recipes on our blog if you need a good LCHF / Keto sauce for your chicken wings or rabbit forelegs. If your not eating LCHF, then sauce them as you wish.

I will say this, I love my Instant pot electric pressure cooker. It is great for reducing the cook times for a wide variety of dishes, and it is perfect for this recipe. Start to finish you can have a mess of wings ready for your friends and family to enjoy in less than 45 minutes, or less than 30 minutes if you use the quick release cooking method. So grab your electric pressure cooker and let's go make some hot wings / forelegs.

Chicken / Rabbit Hot Wings

You will need 2 to 4 pounds of chicken wings or rabbit forelegs for this recipe. I like to keep it simple when I am making buffalo style hot wings and simply season the meat with salt and pepper, but you can use any number of flavored seasonings, just keep in mind the final flavor profile you are looking to present as some seasonings may not be compatible with your sauce of choice.

2 – 4 pounds of rabbit forelegs or chicken wings
½ cup hot sauce of choice (Franks' or Louisiana Hot Sauce)
½ stick of butter (melted)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the rabbit forelegs at the joint so that you have two pieces similar to that of a chicken wing. Season with salt and black pepper. Place a steamer rack in your electric pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Add the rabbit forelegs on top of the rack and close your pressure cooker making sure that the vent is closed. Cook the forelegs on high pressure (manual mode) for 10 minutes and then quick release the pressure; or, you can pressure cook them for cook for 8 minutes and let the pressure come down naturally (about 15 – 20 minutes.)

Chef's Note: I personally like to cook my wings/forelegs for the 8 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally. I find that this way the wings/forelegs are cooked to perfection and they are nice, tender and juicy. Using a steamer rack is an important step, I do not like my wings to sit in the bottom of the pressure cooker in the water, but this is just a personal preference.

While the wings/forelegs are cooking combine 1/2 cup of hot sauce with 1/2 cup of butter in a medium sized plastic bowl and heat in the microwave until the butter melts and them whisk until thoroughly combined. If you wish to melt the butter separately and them combine it with the hot sauce you can, but it does not really matter.

Once the pressure is released from your pressure cooker, remove the the wings or forelegs and pat dry with a paper towel if necessary. Place the wings/forelegs into the bowl with your wing sauce and toss them until they are totally coated with the sauce. Then remove them from the bowl and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.

Chef's Note: At this point the wings/forelegs are completely cooked, and you could eat them striaght form the bowl, and they would be quite good. However, broiling them for 5 minutes and then tossing them into the wing sauce a second time gives the final product a greater depth of taste as more sauce adheres to the wings/forelegs after they have been broiled and tossed a second time.

Once the wings/forelegs have been arranged on your foil lined baking sheet place it in your preheated oven and broil the wings/forelegs on high for about 5 minutes. Because every oven's broiler is slightly different carefully watch the wings/forelegs as they can quickly go from light brown to burned rather quickly. In my particular oven, 5 minutes is perfect.

Once your wings/forelegs have been broiled for 5 minutes and they are nice and brown, remove them from the foil and place them back in the bowl with the wing sauce and toss them one more time to re-coat the wings/forelegs. Then serve the wings on a platter, divide them onto equal portions, or simply eat them out of the bowl. 

Nutritional Information

The nutritional information for this recipe is based on a two pounds of rabbit forelegs and or 2 pounds of chicken wings. Farm raised meat rabbits like we raise are lean all white meat, and it is closer to chicken breast when you look at the fat content. Because of this, rabbit forelegs have quite a bit less fat than chicken wings with the skin on. However, the butter in the sauce does add a substantial amount of fat which still makes these rabbit hot wings a good LCHF option. Having said that, chicken wings with the skin on has almost six times more fat, so they are really a better choice if you need to increase your fat uptake.

Total Recipe

Rabbit Forelegs (2 lbs): Calories – 1682, fat 20 grams, protein 198 grams, carbohydrates 0 grams
Chicken Wings (2 lbs): Calories – 2091, fat 113 grams, protein 246 grams, carbohydrates 0 grams

Remember, if you are eating LCHF / Keto, the chicken wings would probably be a better choice if you had to choose between the two. Fortunately for us, we do not have to choose and all I can say it that the rabbit “wings” were fantastic.


As I have mentioned before, I love my Instantpot. Whether you have an Instantpot or other electric pressure cooker, you can make delicious hot wings in 30 to 45 minutes that both you and your family will love by following this simple recipe. Heck, you can have a big batch of LCHF / Keto friendly wings ready in less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered. So if you like hot wings, but have been missing out on them because those deep fried, flour coated deliciousness will blow you out of ketosis, then this recipe is for you. So fire up your electric pressure cooker, and turn on your broiler and let us know how you like this recipe.

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