Faster than the time it takes to wait for delivery, Cashew Chicken is made with tender and moist breast meat, whole cashews, and a sweet and savoury sauce.
I fell in love with Cashew Chicken many years ago. It’s one of those classic dishes that you see on many Chinese restaurant buffet tables, and that’s exactly where I found it the very first time.
We don’t go to Chinese buffets very often, but when the rare opportunity comes along, this is certainly one of the dishes that I look forward to eating the most.
My homemade version is better though, because I use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, which is not what you would normally find at a buffet. Breast meat helps to keep the dish lighter and a little bit healthier.
Let’s talk about this tasty dish.
Turns out, this is not an authentic Chinese dish at all, despite it being popular in Chinese restaurants. It’s a Chinese-American dish that combines chicken with cashews in a thick red garlic and ginger sauce.
In most cases, you’ll find the dish made with thigh meat, which you can do if you please. In fact, it’s easier to make this dish with chicken thighs, because in contrast, breast meat is so easy to over cook. But, if you follow the recipe below precisely, the breast meat will be tender and moist.
I know this recipe has a lot of ingredients, but if you really look closely, you’ll most likely have them in your pantry or fridge already. Onion, oil, salt, pepper, corn starch, soy sauce, ketchup, and vinegar are pretty much everywhere.
The hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, cashews, and fresh ginger however, might be a different story. Not everyone will have these things on hand, but luckily, they’re very inexpensive.
If you want to save money, you can leave out the oyster sauce and just use two tablespoons of the hoisin sauce. By the way, you can certainly make this dish vegetarian by using cauliflower. I’ve done it and it works. You can check out my Cashew Cauliflower if you’re interested.
What to serve with Cashew Chicken:
Steamed or stir-fried broccoli would be a great side. And so would a quickly stir-fried bok choi – yum! To be honest, I like this dish with salad. I like to let the prepared dish sit for a bit to cool down and then I toss some onto a salad. It’s really delicious!
This dish is delicious and very forgiving. You can change things up to make it your own. Leave the sugar out, increase the salt, use chicken thighs, skip the green onions, cut back on the cashews, etc. The goal is simple – put a main on the dinner table that is delicious and one that your family will love.
It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that! That’s the one thing I love about cooking that baking cannot really offer – flexibility. Make your own, Dear Reader; just don’t overcook the chicken!
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted cashews
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onions with the salt, black pepper, and cooking oil for 3-5 minutes.
- In the meantime, toss the chicken with the corn starch and set aside.
- Once the onions are softened, add the chicken and toss into the onion and oil. Cook until the chicken has no visible pink on the outside – about 8-10 minutes.
- Next, add the garlic and ginger. Toss with the chicken and onion mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- In the meantime, whisk together the water, soy sauce, ketchup, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar.
- Pour the ketchup mixture over the chicken and increase the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked alll the way through.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the cashews and the green onions. Allow chicken to rest for 2-3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.