Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cashew Chicken

Awhile back I told you about Stan’s and my weird and unexplainable aversion to chicken. And although it hasn’t completely gone away, I’m happy to report that we are easing back into the poultry arena without much complaint. We’ve switched up where we buy our chicken, and that seems to be making a difference. Don’t know why exactly, but considering that chicken is an inexpensive, quick, and easy protein option for weeknight dinners, I’m willing to roll with it.

After thoroughly enjoying the sweet, salty, spicy, and savory flavors of the caramelized black pepper chicken I made a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been on the lookout for other simple, yet complexly flavored chicken dishes. When I came across this recipe for cashew chicken, it seemed to fit the bill. The fact that I already had most of the ingredients on hand made it a done deal. I’m also a big fan of any recipe that lets me use my wok – its large size means I end up with less food spatter to scrape off my stovetop.

While this may not be the most authentic cashew chicken, it is easy to prepare, quick-cooking, and very flavorful. Chunks of chicken breasts or thighs are stir-fried with garlic and green onions. Rice wine vinegar and Hoisin sauce add additional flavor and coat the chicken in a delicious sauce. Cashews give the dish the requisite crunch. I must admit that I used cashew pieces instead of the whole cashews originally called for in the recipe. They weren’t quite as pretty, but they cost half as much. If I was entertaining I might do things differently, but for a weeknight dinner at home with Stan, cashew pieces work just fine!

Cashew Chicken
Adapted from Very Culinary

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 T. cornstarch
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T. vegetable oil
8 scallions (green onions), cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
1 T. garlic, minced (about 3 to 4 cloves)
2 T. rice wine vinegar
3 T. Hoisin sauce
2 T. water
3/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews

In a large bowl, combine chicken, cornstarch, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to coat chicken evenly.

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until browned and almost cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and the white parts of the scallions. Stir-fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the vinegar, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the Hoisin sauce and the water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the cashews and the green parts of the scallions.

Serve hot.

Serves 4.

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