Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chicken with Cashews

1 1/2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breast
2-3 tbls hoisin sauce
2 tbls soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sherry or 1/2 tsp of rice wine vinegar
1 tbl cornstarch
1 can water chestnuts
1/2 - 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
sesame oil

Cut up the chicken into bite sized chunks or stirfry slices (thin and longish). Toss it with the cornstarch and sherry or vinegar. Mix together the hoisin, sugar and soy sauce. Heat up a nonstick stir fry pan or skillet. Cook the chicken in batches if you want browning or all together if you don't care. When the chicken is almost done add the sauce mixture. Cook over med-high for a minute or so, then add the water chestnuts. Cook for another minute or so then add the cashews. Stir it up and serve over rice, sprinkle a little sesame oil over the top right before eating.

Ok, this one is another really easy one. But there is a catch. Of course. I didn't really follow my own recipe. I forgot to get cornstarch (I know, after that post about checking all the ingredients first. Most embarrassing.), I didn't bother with the sherry/vinegar because I really just didn't feel like it and I totally flaked on the sesame oil. But fortunately this recipe is pretty much a prepped canvas. You can take away stuff you don't like, add stuff you do, whatever. Add some crushed red pepper, swap the cashews with peanuts and add some veggies and it's pretty much kung pao. Add shrimp and it's some kind of "Multiple Delight of Happiness" like they always have at chinese restaurants. It is a concept more than anything, this just happens to be the way I like it best. When I do it right. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect so don't look at me like that. It still came out wicked good. First mix up the sauce. I like two tablespoons of hoisin and two tablespoons of soy. Don't be afraid to scrape the hoisin out of the spoon with your (clean!) finger, it's thick stuff. Is the sauce too salty for you like this? Swap out some soy for some chicken broth or even water. Want it sweeter? Add a teaspoon of sugar or honey. All kinds of things you can do. Now you slice the chicken. Or have your brother do it while you take pictures and stay clean. I like that way. He does it all fancy, slicing each breast in half then cutting thin slices at an angle. When I do it I just hack big chunks off and call it done. Now you stirfry the chicken. Don't worry if your stove is a little dirty, that just means you've been cooking a lot lately. Which is good. I said don't look at me like that. Now I don't usually bother with browning for this recipe since with the powerful sauce you really can't tell. Plus it's quicker if you don't have to do it in shifts. Other than not browning the biggest drawback to just dumping it all in is the chicken releases a whole lot of juices and if you don't drain them off (er, like I didn't) it waters down your sauce and makes you need to punch it up in the end. But we will get to that later. So, I suggest draining the liquid before adding your sauce if you don't do it in shifts. Or, if you find the sauce too strong take out a tbls of soy sauce and leave the juices in. My goal with this recipe is to give you so many options you won't know what to do. Heh. Once your chicken is mostly cooked (no need to worry too much, it will cook more in the sauce) add your sauce and stir it around. Now if you didn't drain the liquid off you will want to let it reduce till it's thick enough to make a trail when you drag a utensil through it. Like this.Or if you have the cornstarch it won't really be much of an issue. Now add the water chestnuts and let it cook for just another minute. Now add the cashews. How many should you add? How many do you have? is my answer to that. Can you have too many cashews in a dish like this? I don't think so. I just toss in the whole package. Well, what's left after everyone has been snacking on them while we were cooking. If you add them too early they get all chewy and that is gross. Now after tasting it I found it not strong enough, so I put another spoon of hoisin in.That made it just right enough. This recipe is not finicky. You can serve this over rice or noodles or some broccoli or some other green thing. Or really whatever you want. Putting it in a wrap would be good. I like it in a bowl.


kaje said...

Oooooh, it's your lovely assistant again, prepping the raw chicken. I can tell by the wedding ring. Aren't I smart?

Bob said...

Can't put anything past you! Must be that Harvard edumacation. :) You can also tell by the knife skills. I go at it barbarian style. Rargh!


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