When I was writing "Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen," Cashew Chicken was one of the first recipes I asked my father to teach me because his was so exceptional. Stir-frying this recipe always makes me think of my him and once you get down the technique (which is pretty simple to master), this will definitely become a repeat dinner option. The combination of garlic and ginger always make a dish shine with flavor, and when combined with earthy shiitake mushrooms, tender chunks of chicken and buttery cashews, it's unstoppable.
Technique tip: Never use a nonstick wok or skillet for preparing this dish or any stir-fry. Most nonstick cookware is not suited for high heat cooking and will not properly sear the chicken.
Swap option: Instead of cashew nuts you can use almonds, peanuts to pine nuts.
- 4 Chinese dried Shiitake mushrooms
- 12 ounces boneless chicken breast or thigh
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup roasted and unsalted cashew nuts, about 3 ounces
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 3 slices ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
In a medium bowl, soak the mushrooms in 1/3 cup cold water for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut off and discard stems, and think slice the caps.2.
Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Stir-to combine and set aside.3.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and ginger, and stir-fry 10 seconds. Carefully add the chicken mixture, spreading it in the wok. Cook, undisturbed 1 to 2 minutes, letting chicken begin to brown. Then using a metal spatula, stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.4.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok and then add garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper, and stir-fry 1 minute. Swirl in reserved mushroom soaking liquid and stir-fry until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute.5.
Return the chicken to the wok with any juices that have accumulated, along with the cashews and the reminding tablespoon of soy sauce and str-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.