I love this Spicy Cashew Chicken recipe because of its simplicity. I don’t usually think of Chinese dishes as quick and easy, probably because I get hung up on the fact that there are all those little condiment and sauce bottles to juggle. But this isn’t hard or complicated, and the result is so worth it.
This one is a snap, especially if you are organized enough to keep all your Asian sauce ingredients in the same section of the refrigerator door. (I’m not.) When you break it down it’s just browned chicken quickly stir fried with garlic and ginger, scallions, cashews, and a few common sauce components. My husband and I agreed it was one of the best things we’ve had in a while. We polished it off way too quickly, and my only regret is that I didn’t double the batch.
One of the nice things about stir frying is that the food tastes very fresh. Nothing is overcooked, and the flavors pop. Even the scallions stay bright green! The chicken, the sweet/hot/sour sauce, and the strong crunchy cashew presence makes this really wonderful, I highly recommend it.
If you’re a dark meat type, use boneless chicken thighs in place of the breasts.
- 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 2 dried hot red peppers, sliced, seeds and all (or about 1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste)
- 1 bunch, about 10, green onions, sliced, both white parts and green parts
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- several dashes sesame oil
- 3/4 cup raw cashews that have been lightly toasted (see note below)
- snipped chives for garnish
- Cooked white or brown rice
- In a small bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the cornstarch, making sure to get all the chicken coated.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, brown the chicken on all sides. Do this in batches, so you don't crowd the chicken. The chicken needs space in the pan to brown well. Set the browned chicken aside on a plate.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and hot pepper to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add most of the scallions, (reserve a handful for garnishing later.) and the chicken back into the pan and toss to combine.
- Add the vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, if using, and the water to the pan. Mix everything well,bring up to a simmer and cook gently for a minute or two until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy. Taste it now to see if you want to adjust any seasonings.
- Add the cashews to the sauce, and sprinkle on a few dashes of the sesame oil. Serve over hot rice garnished with the rest of the scallions, and some snipped chives. I also threw on a few more cashews.
To toast the cashews, put them in a small saute pan over medium heat and toss them until they start to brown lightly and you can smell their aroma. Watch the pan and don't let them burn.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart
Oh, one other thing…good fresh cashews really make this dish. Try to find raw ones. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are good sources. Even chain grocery stores start stocking all kinds of nuts for the holiday season, so you may be able to find them at your regular store.