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Chicken and Cashews

Chicken and Cashews

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Serves 4 - 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; from a Chinese restaurant recipe.

Chinese American food is all about the sauce. It also cooks in minutes. Near where I used to work there is an Asian restaurant where we ate lunch regularly. They made their own sauces and the owner, despite my best efforts, would not reveal those recipes. I brought a little jar with me one day and ordered chicken and cashews, after which I poured the remaining sauce in the jar. A friend said, “You’re taking that home to your laboratory, aren’t you?” I did. It took a while, but I figured out the sauce.

A lot of people think Chinese cooking is just chopping vegetables and cooking them in a wok. You also need to combine flavors into an excellent sauce. Chinese American fusion cooking is American, not genuine Chinese.

Ingredients:

Sauce:
¾ cup (150ml) hot water
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (or other chicken flavoring) or beef stock for a darker sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1½ to 2 tablespoons corn starch2
Salt to taste (I find it doesn’t need salt, as it gets enough from the soy sauce and the cashews)
Main Ingredients:
2 tablespoon peanut oil (or corn oil)
2 to 4 (depending on size) cloves garlic; finely chopped (or crushed through a garlic press)
¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound (500g) boneless chicken breast meat (dark meat is equally good); cubed
1 carrot; julienned (cut into 1–inch lengths and then cut into matchstick-like pieces)
¾ cup (60g) small broccoli floret pieces
¼ cup (30g) peas
1 small zucchini, about 3 ounces (90g); cubed
3-4 small mushrooms (2 oz. / 60g); sliced or quartered
1 cup (2 oz. / 60g) chopped Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage)
5-6 green onions (¾ oz. / 20g); green part only, cut into 1–inch (2.5cm) lengths
1 cup (100g) cashew nuts

Directions:

Combine the sauce ingredients, except the corn starch, and set aside. The water will be hot to dissolve the chicken bouillon. This can cause the corn starch to form lumps. Let it cool before adding the corn starch.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the garlic and ginger; let sizzle in the oil for a few seconds. Add the chicken and sauté only until cooked. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside. Add the carrot and broccoli and cook about a minute. Add the peas, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook another minute. Finally, add the Napa cabbage and green onions and cook one more minute.

Add the corn starch to the cooled sauce mixture and blend well. Pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a boil to thicken. Remove from the heat. Add the cashews and cooked chicken. Mix to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately. Can be served with rice on the side.