Cashew chicken, a popular staple on Chinese American menus, offers a delightful culinary fusion. Unlike the spicy flair of Kung Pao Chicken that melds chilies with peanuts, cashew chicken showcases a soft, subtly sweet brown sauce, enhancing the roasted cashews’ rich flavor.
Crafting the Perfect Cashew Chicken
While numerous Cashew Chicken variations lean heavily on sweetness, our rendition, a legacy from our family’s dining establishment, strikes a harmonious chord of taste. We enhance the dish with a mix of hoisin sauce and honey, coupled with soy sauces for that iconic brown hue. And for that zest? A hint of rice wine vinegar ensures a savory depth without overwhelming your palate.
For those with an adoration for cashews, this Cashew Chicken sauté is an essential addition to your culinary repertoire.
Chicken and Preliminary Mix:
- 1 pound chicken breast (boneless, skinless, & diced into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
The Sauce Magic:
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or your home-cooked version)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- A pinch of ground white pepper
Completing the Ensemble:
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil (separated)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (finely grated)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper (diced)
- 1/2 cup green onions (sliced)
- 1/2 cup water chestnuts (sliced into 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup cashews (sans salt & roasted for 5 mins at 350°F)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (melded with 2 tablespoons water)
The Art of Cooking:
- Blend chicken, cornstarch, water, oil, and oyster sauce till the chicken is well-coated. In a distinct vessel, whisk all the sauce ingredients.
- Fire up your wok to a high temperature until wisps of smoke appear. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil around the wok’s edges.
- Toss in the chicken mix, spreading it out for even cooking. Fry each side for a minute, ensuring a lovely brown exterior with 80% cooked insides. Retrieve and set aside.
- Introduce the remaining oil, ginger, and allow a 5-second sizzle before presenting the garlic. Swiftly incorporate bell peppers, green onions, and water chestnuts. Sauté for half a minute.
- Drizzle Shaoxing wine around the wok’s rim, and energize the mixture with a brief 10-second stir.
- Introduce the pre-mixed sauce, ensuring to collect all its goodness. Reintroduce the chicken and the juices it exudes. As it begins to bubble, bring in the roasted cashews.
- Stir in the cornstarch blend, using about three-quarters of it. Adjust based on your sauce preference. Let it bubble, ensuring the sauce beautifully clings to all ingredients. Present it on a plate, preferably with a bowl of fluffy rice, and let the flavors enchant you!