Chicken, rice and cashew nuts are all popular ingredients in Chinese cooking, both separately and together. The problem with a lot of Chinese food in the West in modern times is that it is made to contain some very non-Chinese ingredients which are widely deemed to be potentially harmful to human health, perhaps most prominently, monosodium glutamate (MSG). These ingredients are added to enhance both presentation and flavor but sometimes the flavor of the basic food ingredients themselves is all that is required to provide a tasty and nourishing meal, in the true spirit of Chinese cuisine.
Chicken, Pineapple and Cashew Nuts with Herb Rice
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 1 skinless chicken breast fillet, diced to one inch
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon corn starch/corn flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for rice cooking water and seasoning
- Half cup basmati rice
- 1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 pineapple ring canned in own juice, cut in to six segments
- 1 tablespoon shelled and unsalted cashew nuts
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro/coriander leaf, to garnish
- Peanut or vegetable oil for stir frying
The first step is to velvet the chicken, a Chinese process which protects the delicate meat during the intense heat of the stir frying process. Put the egg white in to a small glass bowl along with the corn flour/starch and the half teaspoon of salt. Stir to form a smooth paste before adding the chicken pieces and folding through. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for twenty minutes only.
The rice will take about ten minutes to cook. Begin by bringing a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Wash the rice thoroughly through a sieve under running cold water before adding to the pot. Reduce the heat to achieve a simmer and stir well. If desired, put two small serving dishes as seen above in to a low oven to preheat.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and drain as well as possible through a colander. Heat the wok and add about a tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the chicken just until it is evenly sealed and the meat has turned almost white. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Add the onion and garlic to the wok and stir fry for a minute until just softened but not colored. Add the pineapple and cashew nuts, followed by the chicken for the second time. Stir fry for another minute or two until the chicken is cooked before adding the pineapple juice for the last few seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to one of the heated serving dishes.
Drain the rice well, return to the pot and allow it to steam off for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and stir through before spooning in to the second serving dish. At the table, the rice should be plated first and the main dish spooned over the top.
Chicken and Cashew Nuts Fried Rice Recipe
Fried rice can be served plain as an accompaniment to a meal or it can be embellished - as in this instance - with other ingredients and served as itself the main part of the meal. If you do think this is likely to be a little on the dry side for your tastes, you can easily stir some sauce like sweet and sour or black bean through the rice thirty seconds or so before it comes out of the wok and perhaps eliminate the fried egg from the recipe.
- 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 1/2 cooked chicken breast, skinned and roughly shredded
- 1 tablespoon unsalted, shelled cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, plus a little extra for frying egg
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- Light soy sauce
Put the rice in to a sieve and wash under running cold water. Add to a pot of salted, boiling water and stir briefly but well. Simmer for ten minutes.
Drain the rice through the sieve and tip it on to a large plate. Spread it out that it cools more quickly, cover and leave for about an hour to cool completely. (Important safety point: never leave cooked rice out at room temperature for more than an hour or so. If preparing further in advance, it must be refrigerated as soon as it has sufficiently cooled.)
Pour a very little oil in to a small frying pan. Wipe it around with some kitchen paper just to leave a film of oil in the pan. Bring the pan up to a fairly high heat. Break the egg in to a small cup or bowl. Pour it gently in to the centre of the pan. After a few seconds, reduce the heat under the pan to low to medium.
Bring a wok up to a very high heat and add the oil to heat through. Stir fry the chicken and cashew nuts for about a minute before adding the cooled rice. Stir fry for a further minute before adding a good splash of light soy sauce. Stir well before transferring to a serving bowl or plate.
The egg is cooked when it can be seen that the white is fully set immediately around the yolk. Lift it carefully on to the fried rice with a spatula and serve immediately.
Chicken and Cashew Nuts Rice Casserole
Chicken, cashew nuts and bell peppers are all incorporated in a simple rice casserole
This recipe idea strays away from the Chinese theme but remains a delicious way of combining these three principal ingredients.
- 1 skinless chicken breast fillet, cut to one inch dice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 small white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 and 1/5 cups basmati rice, washed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted cashew nuts
- 1 and 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock, heated
- Chopped parsley to garnish
Put your oven on to preheat to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.
Gently heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the chicken. Cook over a low to moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the chicken has turned opaque and is sealed.
Add the peppers and onion, season and stir for a further minute.
Wash the rice and add to the pot with the cashew nuts. Stir to combine before pouring in the chicken stock.
Transfer everything to an ovenproof dish and cover with foil. Bake for forty-five to fifty minutes.
Take the dish from the oven and very carefully remove the foil. Use a fork to fluff up the rice. If any liquid remains, put the dish back in the oven uncovered for five more minutes and test again.
Scatter the parsley over the top and take the dish to the table. Use a large spoon to divide between two serving plates.