Who doesn’t LOVE ❤ cashews? I pretty much love all nuts (even some of the human kind), but cashews have a special place in my heart. When I was quite young and my maternal grandfather was still alive, he owned and operated Eddie’s Bar. And in that bar he had this hotbox containing a treasure trove of warm roasted cashews. He knew I harbored a passion for them, so he would sneak me a large serving, along with an ice cold orange soda pop, whenever I’d stop in from playing outdoors. Yes, in those days it was OK for a young child to walk into a bar!
Now, many decades later, I still drool for salty roasted cashews, although I don’t traipse into a bar to get them (however I wouldn’t put it past me.) But I am tickled pink when I come across a recipe that calls for the luscious little fellows. This one however uses the unsalted variety, but because I could and I did, I incorporated the salty ones, and probably more than the half cup listed below 😉
Likely one of the most beloved Chinese recipes in America, Cashew Chicken classically consists of dark meat chicken, sugar snap peas, carrots, and cashews in a light, silky sauce that barely clings to the chicken and that’s fragrant with ginger. Sadly, Cashew Chicken found at your local Chinese take-out is often nothing at all like it was intended to be, consisting rather of greasy, deep-fried chicken in a goopy gravy. Sound familiar? This simple stir-fry takes you squarely back to tradition, thanks to Grace Young.
Keep in mind, as with most stir-fries, make sure to have all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time, because when doing the actual stir-frying, there is no downtime and it goes crazy fast—about 5 minutes total. To add even more flavor, cook your rice with homemade chicken stock instead of water.
Overall, the quantity of veggies seemed a bit sparse so I increased the carrots, snap peas and celery all by about 50%. Being a cashew lover, this was a great week for me because just a few days prior we dined on Baingan Bharta, which also incorporated the delicious nuts!
Did You Know? The cashew fruit consists of two distinct parts: a fleshy stalk in the form of a pear—also called the cashew apple—with a brilliant yellow or red skin’ and a gray-brown colored nut (the cashew) in the shape of a kidney, which hangs from the lower end of the stalk or “apple.”
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (for a richer tasting sauce, use dark soy sauce)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas (2 1/2 oz), strings removed
- 1/2 cup carrots sliced 1/4 inch thick (or matchsticks)
- 1/2 cup celery sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and sugar. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl combine the broth, the remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine, and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.
- Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water added vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, tilting the wok to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add the ginger and, using a metal spatula, stir-fry until the ginger is fragrant, about 10 seconds. Push the ginger to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken mixture, and spread it evenly in a single layer. Cook the chicken, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Then stir-fry until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through, about 1 minute.
- Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the wok, add the sugar snaps, carrots, celery, and cashews, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir-fry just until the sugar snaps are bright green, about 1 minute.
- Restir the broth mixture and swirl it into the wok, adding it along the sides rather than into the middle. Stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately over steamed rice, if using.
Recipe adapted from Grace Young