Friday, June 15, 2012

cashew chicken.

I previously confessed about my inability to cook rice.  I tried it again earlier this week.  This time it was slightly less disastrous but it was still less then stellar.  (I am still blaming the pots for my poor performance.) 

What led me to tackle rice again this week was a chicken cashews stir fry dish I had read about. I am kind of determined to try and teach my friends that you can make food that you would normally order out faster in your own kitchen. We don't eat takeout for a lot of reasons but the biggest reason for me is that I find I can cook dinner quicker then I can have it delivered  (and also because I would rather save my money for a second dinner at Per Se...)

This cashew stir fry is kind of amazing. After prepping everything (which takes about 15 minutes) the actual cooking process only takes about 6 minutes!  The dish itself is delicious - crunchy and sweet and a little spicy (from my own addition of Siracha!).  It will be perfect once I can master the rice...this may take a while.

Cashew Chicken

I used more sugar snap peas in my version then the original recipie called for to make this a more balanced meal (and because I had a lot from the farmers market).  Feel free to add in more vegetables, they are good for you!

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons soy sauce (regular or dark)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons (plus more for the final dish if you’re like me!) Siracha
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (use only oils with a high smoke point, such as grapeseed)
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed, pods left whole
1/2 cup unsalted cashews (if using raw cashews, toast them in a dry skillet for a minute or two prior to tossing them into the stir-fry)

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1 teaspoon Siracha, and sugar. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl combine the broth, the remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine, and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water added vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, tilting the wok to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the ginger and, using a metal spatula, stir-fry until the ginger is fragrant, about 10 seconds. Push the ginger to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken mixture, and spread it evenly in a single layer. Cook the chicken, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Then stir-fry until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through, about 1 minute.

Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the wok, add the sugar snaps (or whatever veggies you are using), and cashews, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir-fry just until the sugar snaps are bright green, about 1 minute. Restir the broth mixture and swirl it into the wok, adding it along the sides rather than into the middle. Stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with rice and more Siracha if desired.

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