One Week Wonders: Cashew Chicken or Chik’n

So, I photocopied these authentic Chinese recipes from my mom.  She got them decades ago from my aunt who took a cooking class in Chinatown in NYC.  Now, I’ve been making stir fries for years, because they’re such a great way to eat veggies, but I always used prepackaged sauces, and the consensus was that my stir fries kind of tasted “fake.”

These Chinese recipes I took from my mom are the REAL THING.  The first time I made it, Nate agreed that it tasted like we ordered take-out.  The best part is that cooking it yourself you can make it with whatever vegetables and proteins you want, and limit the amount of oil you use to cook.

For this cashew “chicken” recipe, I used cubed seitan (West Soy brand) because it was on sale at Krogers.  But you can use any protein:  tofu, tempeh, chicken, beef, pork.

I also bought the chinese spices and sauces at Jungle Jim’s, this INCREDIBLE international market that’s about the size of a SuperWalmart, and is jam-packed with authentic food from all over the globe.  Using light soy sauce from China absolutely makes this dish taste better than the Kikoman packets you hoarded from ordering sushi.

You can also substitute any vegetables you want.  I used broccoli, red pepper, and yellow onion this time, but it’s also great with bok choy, celery, carrots, peppers, onions, etc. etc. etc.

This looks difficult, but its actually pretty easy, if you make sure you have “mise in place” (have everything organized and cut up before you start cooking).

Cashew Chicken

  •  1 lb protein, cubed
  • 1/2 c whole dry roasted cashews (Trader Joe’s has them cheap)
  • 2 stalks broccoli
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • Sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground bean sauce or hot bean sauce (find it at the Chinese grocery store)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • Marinade for protein
  • 1 tbsp thin soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine (Chinese grocery store)
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Marinade the protein for 20 minutes.  While the protein is marinading, chop all the vegetables into 1 inch pieces, approximately.

Heat wok on high heat.  Add 2 tsp vegetable oil, add protein and stirfry about 5 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.  (if you’re using a vegetarian protein, you can brown it until pretty dark, you can’t really overcook seitan or tofu).  Remove protein and set aside.

Heat wok again on high heat.  Add a little oil, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce and ground bean sauce, then all the vegetables.  Stir fry for 1 minute, then add 1/2 to 3/4 c water (more water the saucier the dish), cover, and cook for 2-5 minutes, until vegetables are brightly colored and crisp.

Add protein and sesame oil, stir in cornstarch to thicken, add cashews, and stir.

Serve over perfect rice.

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