Thai Cashew Chicken

IMG_3305IMG_3300IMG_4663Thai Cashew Chicken
adapted from Eating Thai Food

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 1-1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons stock or water

For the stir fry

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 2/3 cup dry Thai birds eye red chilies (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 large cloves)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced into wedges
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 large banana chili peppers, cut in thin strips (see Notes)
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces

Method

Mix the chicken with flour to evenly coat.

Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the raw cashew nuts in the hot oil for about 30 seconds, until golden brown; scoop out and set aside. In the same oil, fry the Thai dry chilies for about 1 minute until crispy; remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove and set aside.

Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the garlic and stir fry for a few seconds, then add the onion wedges and stir fry until translucent. Add the bell pepper and banana pepper and stir fry for a minute or so. Add a bit of water in the wok if it gets dry. Add the seasoning sauce mixture and stir fry until the sauce thickens and become sticky.

Add the chicken, cashew nuts, and dry chiles and stir fry until everything is coated. Add the scallions, stir fry for only a few seconds, then turn off the heat. Serve with hot steamed rice.

NOTES

Until a couple of months ago, I never even knew there was such a thing as Thai Cashew Chicken. I WAS MISSING OUT. This is the perfect blend of Thai savory, spicy, slightly sweet flavors that I love so much. I seriously cannot stop making it.

Interesting note: I will forever be indebted to the original recipe writer here for instructing me to fry the dried chiles as one of the first steps for this dish. The depth of flavor that it adds is unbelievable – earthy, smoky, spicy – and, even more significantly, I now understand that those flavors are meant to be imparted from the fried chiles to the overall dish (which is why you don’t eat the dried chiles in the finished dish; they’ve already done their job!). I will henceforth be doing this with my other Asian recipes that involve dried chiles (e.g., my Kung Pao Chicken and Kung Pao Ground Chicken), which, up until now, have always been missing any flavor from the peppers. But I get it now!

Notes on ingredients: you can substitute chiles de arbol for the dry Thai birds eye chiles and substitute another bell pepper for the banana peppers, although the dish will not be quite as spicy (you can always add crushed red chile flakes at the table).

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