Cashew Chicken w/Water Chestnuts & Hoisin Garlic Sauce
Cashew chicken has always been my favorite item to order for Chinese take-out. I love the depth of flavor in the garlic hoisin sauce and stir fried chicken and the slight crunch from the water chestnuts.
Then I moved to Springfield, Missouri and discovered that they cherish a “Springfield Style” cashew chicken* that (I’m sorry to all my new friends and neighbors) is NOT cashew chicken. It features fried chicken chunks the size of golf balls and a sauce made from garlic and oyster sauce. I guess it’s fine if it is your jam, but don’t call it cashew chicken and not expect the rest of the country to roll their eyes at you.
Which brings me to my problem – in Springfield, they ONLY serve Springfield style cashew chicken and after more than a year without the real deal, I was starting to go through withdrawals. Lucky for me I live in the age of the internet and after testing and combining several recipes and then just making adjustments based on how I remember the real deal, I am happy to say that I can enjoy cashew chicken again. At home 🙂
- If you want a fluffy rice, rinse the rice (the starches in it are going to make it a sticky rice if they aren’t rinsed off)
- The rice to water ratio is NOT 1:2 like everyone says. It’s 1:1 plus whatever water is going to evaporate. For me, that means 2 cups of rice to 3 cups of water.
- Add rice to salted, boiling water, cover, and let simmer on low for about 18 minutes then remove from heat and let sit for another 10-15 minutes. The rice will continue to cook/steam and will be fluffy when you do remove the lid (don’t skip this or you are likely to have sticky rice).
- Alton also recommends browning the rice in butter to add extra flavor, which I always do when making savory rices and pilaf, but for Asian cooking, I don’t like the added flavor. For me, it’s just water, salt, and rice.
Cashew Chicken with Roasted Cashews and Water Chestnuts
- 3/4 cup cashews roasted & unsalted
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 5 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 lbs chicken thighs boneless & skinless
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 8 scallions whites & greens separated, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 can water chestnuts diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Asian sesame oil
- bamboo shoots
- thai chili peppers
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Toast cashews on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then set aside.
- Whisk together water, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and toss with salt and pepper.
- Place large nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat.
- When pan is very hot, add half of the chicken and cook approximately 3 minutes (chicken will be browned, but not cooked through). Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining half of the chicken.
- Add garlic, white parts of the scallions, water chestnuts, celery (and any other veggies you are adding) to pan and saute for approximately 1 minute.
- Return chicken to pan and turn heat to medium.
- Add rice wine vinegar and cook until evaporated (about 45 seconds).
- Add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened (1-2 minutes longer).
- Stir in scallion greens, roasted cashews, and sesame oil. Serve immediately with rice.