Chicken or beef with cashews

Meat Stir fries

So, my beautiful Big Niece has come to stay for a night – just overnight to break the journey to Cornwall. I wanted to get a picture of us together cooking dinner but there’s just us here so it had to be a selfie.

And despite trying approx 6,742 times to get a shot we were actually both in, we only managed ones with one of us cut out or that were just too terrible to post. Here’s the best of a very bad bunch of us looking blurry and ‘super-excited’ to be cooking this lovely stir fry (or maybe not!).

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Anyway, photography distraction over. We’re making a chicken stir fry with cashews that I always think of as quite a special dish – a rich sauce, crunchy nuts, soft chicken and a bit of heat from the fried whole dried chillies.

I wanted the bigger dried red chillies ideally but only had the small ones and to be honest I used too many – next time I make this I’ll use fewer (the right quantity is listed in the ingredients but the pic shows too many).  I think the big ones might be a little milder and I would have chopped them into smaller pieces after frying. The chilli issue is up to you though – use as few or as many as you like of course.

The quantity we made serves 2-4 people depending on, well, everything – hunger, greed, what else you’re eating with it, etc so just adjust quantities as you wish and do taste and taste before and during adding the seasonings.

If you’re serving with rice make that first and keep warm until ready.

Enough for us two as well as a portion leftover we used …

1/2 a white onion

2 spring onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 chicken breasts

1 fresh red chilli to garnish, if using

vegetable oil, for frying

about half a cup of plain cashew nuts (not roasted or salted)

4-5 whole dried chillies (or to your taste)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

a good glug of oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

a shake of white pepper

boiled or steamed rice, to serve

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Prepare the ingredients: chop the onion into smallish chunks rather than dicing finely; slice the spring onions using as much of the green stalks as you can; mince the garlic; cut the chicken into slices; and slice the fresh red chilli if using.

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Put quite a bit of oil, about 4 tablespoons, into a frying pan or wok and when hot add the cashew nuts.  Fry, stirring, over a medium heat until golden brown – this will take a few minutes. When brown remove from the oil, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

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Return the pan to the heat and add the dried chillies to the hot oil and cook for around 30-60 seconds until they turn dark and crispy. Again, remove from the pan, drain on kitchen paper and set aside. If using big whole chillies, cut them into smaller pieces.

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Drain off some of the oil if necessary so around 2 tablespoons remain, let cool very slightly and then return to the heat and add the garlic, stirring straight away so it doesn’t burn.

After perhaps half a minute – but sooner if the garlic is turning colour – add the chicken and keep stirring, first to seal quickly and then to cook through. This will probably take 4-5 minutes.

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Add the onions, cashews and chillies and stir fry for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent but still with a bite to them.

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Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and spring onions and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.

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Add the sesame oil and a shake of white pepper, stir in and remove from the heat.

Serve topped with slices of fresh red chilli if liked and with plain rice.

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This is very good with beef too as the sauce is lovely and rich – but it needs cooking slightly differently as the beef doesn’t take long to cook. Slice the steak into thin slices and dredge with approx half a tablespoon of plain/all purpose flour.

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Then after cooking the cashew and the dried chillies fry the beef in the same hot oil and again drain on kitchen paper.

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Cook the garlic, then the onions (I used red as didn’t have white) and I added some red pepper too.  Then add the beef along with the cooked dried chillies, cashews, seasoning sauces and spring onion.

I think I actually prefer the beef to the chicken version but both are very good.

This is a really nice easy special dinner.  Let me know what you think ….

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