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Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken Image

Chicken and Cashews stir-fry couldn’t be get any easier to enjoy with a plate of piping hot rice on a busy week night. Alternatively, you may also use almonds or peanuts to vary the crunch of this dish. The key factor here is the roasted chili paste (page 000) that provides the complexity, sweet, tangy and a hint of heat to this dish. Homemade paste is always better but if you are pressed with time look for the Thai Roasted Chili paste in a glass bottle at the sauce aisle at Asian grocery stores. This store-bought chili paste would taste more sweet and tangy than spicy.

One good way to learn to balance flavors is to combine the oyster sauce, roasted chili paste and fish sauce in a small bowl, then dip your finger, taste and adjust according to your preference. If you like the dish spicy, add more dried chilies in the wok at the beginning, if you like the dish sweeter add more roasted chili paste and oyster sauce. For a saltier finish add more fish sauce instead. Every time I serve this dish, my family and friends tell me that they leave the dinner table feeling nourished, satisfied and invigorated. Must be the magic of chilies!

Serves 4

5 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil

8 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup dried red chilies de arbol

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ¾ inch pieces

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1tablespoons home-made or store bought Thai Roasted Chili Paste

1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste

1 cup roasted unsalted cashews

4 scallions, green and white parts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1. Heat a wok or a large deep skillet over medium heat for 40 seconds and add oil. When the surface shimmers slightly, add the garlic and chilies cook, stirring constantly until light golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken to the side of the wok and allow to sear for 1 minute without mixing. Now, move the chicken back and forth in the wok and continue to cook this way until the meat is no longer pink on the outside and fully done on the inside, about 7 minutes.

3. Add the oyster sauce, roasted chili paste, fish sauce and cashews and cook for 3 minutes.

4. Raise the heat to high, toss in the scallions and mix once for 3 seconds. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

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