February 9, 2009

Cashew Chicken

This dish is a spin on another recipe that I found on one of my new favorite blogs, Meal Planning 101. I really like Asian food, but I don't often prepare it at home. What is more puzzling is that I don't know why?!?! I think I just forget about it...which is pretty hard to do, considering it is a whole huge, all-encompassing, region of flavors, textures, and possibilities. I know...I should turn to more Asian inspired recipes!

Anyway, I don't have some of the exact ingredients on hand for this dish...and I have a couple things to add, as well. I will just amend the original recipe to include my take on it. I think I will serve this dish with some brown rice, which I love. I crave brown rice...I can't get enough of the texture and nutty flavor that brown rice has and white rice does not. For me, it is just more interesting.

On another note, I need to discuss something very disturbing that goes on at my house, whenever there are nuts in the pantry (focus...keep your mind out of the gutter). I have had the cashews for this dish for over a week now, but I keep noticing that the level in the container gets lower and lower every few days. The husband keeps eyeballing them greedily. Any type of nut that I have on hand evaporates mysteriously. If I tell the hubs that I need the nuts for a recipe, I notice that they disappear more slowly. If I don't tell him that I have a specific purpose in mind for them, they are gone before I can blink! Strange, isn't it??? I wonder how that happens???? I will just come out and say it...I think there is a direct correlation between the missing nuts and my husbands love of all things cashew-related. So, that forces me to use the nuts sooner than planned. I need to use the cashews that I bought before I don't have any left for the dish itself. I just can't chance another few days of them sitting in the pantry. As it is, I hope I have enough for this recipe, since SOMEONE keeps eating them! (AHEM!!!!...I'm talkin' to YOU, sir...you know who you are, mister....or should I call you 'cashew thief'....I am on to you, big time...the jig is up...you better watch it....no more missing cashews on my watch!)

Anyway, enough silliness...here is the link to the original post from Meal Planner 101; Cashew Chicken. Below is the modified recipe with my changes. Thanks again, Kindra for all the inspiration!!!!

Cashew Chicken

canola oil
2-3 chicken breasts or 4-5 chicken thighs, chopped up
3-4 tbsp cornstarch
8 green onions, chopped OR 1 diced yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
¼ cup water
1 cup raw cashews, toasted
salt and pepper to taste
1 small bag frozen Asian vegetable blend
low sodium soy sauce to taste
cooked brown rice

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in a bowl with the cornstarch until the chicken is nicely coated. Heat a wok or frying pan with a tablespoon or two of canola oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the chicken and fry until browned and crispy. Remove from the pan. Add another tablespoon or so of oil and stir-fry the rest of the chicken until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In a separate small skillet, dry toast the cashews until fragrant and slightly deeper in color. This goes pretty fast and should only take a couple of minutes. The cashews burn easily, so watch them closely. When ready, remove cashews to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion (if using green onions, use the white parts) and stir-fry about for 1-3minutes, then add garlic for another minute or so. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the rice vinegar. Let the vinegar evaporate (about 30 seconds) then add the chicken back to the pan, along with the hoisin sauce and water. Cook for about a minute or so until the sauce is thick and the chicken is coated. Add the toasted cashews and stir to incorporate. Remove to a plate and top with more onion (if using green onions, top with the green part).

Add an another small amount of oil into wok and stir fry veggies until warmed through but still crisp. Add some soy sauce. To serve, place chicken and veggies over a bed of brown rice. Add more hoisin or soy sauce if needed. Enjoy!

The Result:
This was so fan-freakin'-tastically yummy!!! Awesome...a definite keeper. All of us had seconds, including my toddler. He kept saying "um chicken, um cashews, um chicken, um cashews"...you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, you may have noticed that the brown rice that I waxed poetic about in my earlier commentary is noticeably missing. Yeah. There was an incident. Let's just leave it at that, and move on. Instead, the part of 'brown rice' has been played by it's quick-cooking understudy 'instant white rice'. After the incident, I had to think fast and come up with some other rice. Thankfully, I had some instant in the back of my pantry. Whew! Don't get me wrong, I actually like instant white rice...it reminds me of childhood since that is all my mom made. However, I try not to make it since it is basically void of nutrition and processed like crazy. Oh well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Since I am a cilantro freak, I garnished it with a little chopped, fresh cilantro. I didn't have green onions on hand, but I still wanted something verdant and bright to go on top. Plus, cilantro is probably my favorite herb. I just love the flavor...and I know that is controversial because there are a lot of cilantro-haters out there. Either way, I thought it was the perfect garnish.

Overall, this is probably one of the easiest, most satisfying Asian meals that I have ever made at home (even with the instant rice...I can't wait to try it again with my beloved brown rice). We really loved it and I highly recommend it!!!


The Meal Planner said...

Hey Jen,
I love the simplicity of this recipe, so I really hope you dig it too. Good idea adding the stir-fry veggies. I thought about adding red peppers last minute but there were none to be found in my fridge.

I subscribed to your feed because I'm really liking the variation of recipes that you try...a woman after my own heart! And thanks for trying some of my recipes. Would you mind putting links to the specific recipe on my blog that you are trying? I would really appreciate it since I work so hard on the posts.

Can't wait to see what you think of the chicken!

The Meal Planner said...

Thanks so much Jen! I totally appreciate it.