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Mouthwatering Cashew Chicken

By Edited May 20, 2016 5 14

A tasty, economical dish

Cashew Chicken
Credit: Jaysen Travino | orijinal on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Allergic to seafood?

Try it with vegetarian oyster sauce (I do)

When I was in college, I used to enjoy an incredible cashew chicken dish at Castle Dragon (a small mom-and-pop restaurant) in the Dupont and Spadina area of Toronto. Unfortunately, the place closed down over a decade ago. 

I've been looking for something similar to make for myself ever since. 
 
Fortunately, here on InfoBarrel, I discovered author Robert VanNorden. He has written 18 cookbooks to date (among work related to his expertise as a retired heating contractor). So, I thought I'd try out his cashew chicken recipe from his Kindle book 25 Ways To Cook Your Chicken: Providing it's dead.
 
Since I'm allergic to seafood, I used vegetarian oyster sauce. Also, I didn't have a red bell pepper, so I improvised. And yet, my version turned out excellent. So, here it is.

Keep everything about the same size

Chicken & Cashew Nuts
Credit: ayustety on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution -ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Light Sesame Oil vs. Toasted

Sometimes I cannot find light sesame oil at my local grocery store. I usually find toasted sesame oil (also known as Asian or dark sesame oil).[1]  Toasted sesame oil has more of a nutty taste and is best used to add flavor.

If toasted sesame is all you can find, stir-fry with a neutral tasting oil (such as safflower oil) and add about 1 tsp. of toasted sesame oil (along with the cashews) at the end.

Key Points 

Try to cut up your meat and vegetables into similar sizes. I aim for 1/3 - 1/2 inch cubes.

Pat dry chicken cubes just before stir-frying them - they will sear more evenly (and be tastier).

Remember the first stir-frying of the meat and vegetables is not the final cooking step (so don't overcook them). If you plan on doubling this recipe, I recommend stir-frying the meat and vegetables in two batches.

Every brand of oyster sauce (and even vegetarian oyster sauce) is fairly salty. Be sure to use unsalted dry-roasted cashews or toast your own - see video further along. Use low sodium chicken broth and soy sauce if possible. (You can always add salt to taste, at the end). 

Buy 6 months worth at-a-time

Kevala Extra Virgin Organic Sesame Oil, 8 Ounce
Amazon Price: $8.99 $7.99 Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2016)
Unless you cook with sesame oil often, it's best to use it up within 6 - 8 months. If kept refrigerated, it will last longer (about 2 years) however it often thickens and is harder to combine with sauces or in salad dressings. I especially like the Kevala brand since it's organic, extra virgin, cold pressed, and bottled in glass. Store in a cool, dry place.

Mouthwatering Chicken Cashew

Serves: 2 - 3 | Prep: 15 - 20 mins | Total: 30 mins

Ingredients:
1 lb. (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces)
1/2 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth (I use Vogue Cuisine brand)
3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce (using 1 tbsp. first)
2 tbsp. dry sherry
4 tsp. cornstarch (using 2 tsp. first)
2 tbsp. oyster sauce (I use vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. light sesame oil (using 1 tsp. first)
3/4 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (red, green, orange, or yellow)
1 tbsp. ginger (grated or minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted cashews (halved or chopped)
Optional: 1 carrot (chopped), 1/4 cup snow peas (aka sugar snap peas)
Top with: 3 green onions (chopped) and/or cilantro, if desired
 
Directions:
 
1) In a large bowl, mix together dry sherry, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, and 2 tsp. cornstarch and set aside. Cut up boneless, skinless chicken into bite-size cubes, add to large bowl and turn pieces to coat evenly. 
 
2) In a small bowl, mix together broth, remaining soy sauce (2 tbsp.), cornstarch (2 tsp.), oyster sauce, and honey. Set aside.
 
3) Place a wok (or large non-stick skillet) over med-high, heat 1 tsp. sesame oil for 30 seconds, then add chicken mixture. Stir-fry for about 3 - 4 mins, remove from heat, and scrape into a new bowl. 
 
4) Using the same wok (or large non-stick skillet), heat remaining 1 tsp. of sesame oil for 10 seconds, then add celery, onion, and bell pepper. Stir-fry for 2 - 3 mins. Add ginger and garlic, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add chicken mixture and stir-fry for another minute.
 
5) Add broth mixture and bring to a boil (about 5 - 7 mins). Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 - 2 minutes (vegetables should be tender but not soggy). Fold in cashews and remove from heat.
 
Serve over bed of rice and top with green onions, if desired. 

25 Ways To Cook Your Chicken

Providing it's dead by Robert VanNorden

25 Ways To Cook Your Chicken: Providing it's dead
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2016)
Robert VanNorden has a total of 26 published e-books to date available on Amazon for the Kindle. He recently has taken up cooking and has numerous cookbooks in this series. Everything from vegetarian cookbooks, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts is on sale. Yeah, the title of his books made me laugh too.

Dab chicken dry with some paper towel

just before it hits the wok (or pan)

Boneless Chunks of Chicken Breast
Credit: myboogers on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

How to Toast (dry roast) Cashews

No oil needed (use unsalted, raw cashews)

Fresh, organic, unsalted raw cashews

NOW Foods Raw Organic Cashews
Amazon Price: $7.49 $6.08 Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2016)
Usually, I can only find dry roasted salted cashews. So, I just toast raw ones on the stove (no need for any oil or seasoning). I prefer the Now brand since they are fresh and packaged in smaller quantities. (I only use cashews once or twice a month in cooking). This 10 oz. resealable bag yields about 1 and 1/4 cup worth of raw cashews (enough to make this recipe 5 times).

For a laugh, here is Wok with Yan

(His recipe is different, but his jokes are great):

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Comments

Mar 24, 2014 4:55am
RobertVanNorden
Great article and recipe, keep em coming.
Mar 24, 2014 5:59am
RoseWrites
Thanks to you!
Mar 24, 2014 6:33pm
aesta1
I will certainly try this. I often use the Japanese sesame soy sauce dressing to marinate my meat. This reminds of one of the consultants words for Asian cooking: the revenge of the tidbits.
Mar 25, 2014 6:40am
RoseWrites
HA, "revenge of the tidbits" and don't you just love Wok with Yan? Cashew chicken is one of those comfort foods for me. At the Castle Dragon, I used to pay 5 bucks for a generous serving (and take 1/2 home for dinner another night). This dish is like meatloaf, you can throw in almost any leftovers and it'll taste great. Thanks again for stopping by Mary (love to see your smiling avatar). Take good care, Rose
Apr 7, 2014 5:20pm
mommymommymommy
Great tutorial! I must try this!
Apr 30, 2014 6:32am
RoseWrites
Thanks mommy x 3, I was so glad to learn there was a vegetarian oyster sauce available. I use the Lee Kum Kee brand (shiitake mushrooms give the oyster-like flavour). Take good care, Rose
Apr 7, 2014 5:20pm
mommymommymommy
This comment has been deleted.
Apr 25, 2014 12:27pm
spragusa
Nice article. Great directions, I will surely try this in the near future.
Apr 30, 2014 6:34am
RoseWrites
Hope you enjoy it, it's one of my favs (and you can add pretty much any leftover veggies to it). Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Sincerely, Rose
Apr 30, 2014 2:40am
Larah
This chicken and cashew nuts recipe sounds delicious and with your detailed step by step instruction, should not be too hard to follow.
Apr 30, 2014 6:38am
RoseWrites
Dear Larah,
Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. Cashews are incredibly easy to add to any chicken dish. Toasting them at home is well worth it, imo. The key thing with this dish it to keep everything relatively the same size. Hope you can enjoy some soon.
Warmly,
Rose
May 18, 2014 10:35am
ologsinquito
It looks delicious. I'd like to try this recipe sometime.
May 19, 2014 5:11am
RoseWrites
It's definitely a comfort dish for me. Hope you can enjoy it sometime and thanks for dropping by. Take good care, Rose
May 18, 2014 3:11pm
Ruby3881
I grew up watching "Wok With Yan!" He used to air every day after school. I loved Chinese food and we only ever ate it at the restaurant once or twice a year, so I decided to learn how to cook it. My very first recipes came from Yan's cookbook :)
May 19, 2014 5:19am
RoseWrites
Ha, I watched Wok with Yan after school too. I loved his attempt at humour and I managed to learn some cooking tips from him (I think). Thanks for stopping by, Rose
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Bibliography

  1. "Sesame oil | What is it?." finecooking.com. 22/03/2014 <Web >

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