Recipe: Chicken With Cashews

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chicken With Cashews

4 servings

The refreshing crunch of cucumber is just one reason why this version is so much better -- and faster -- than your average Chinese takeout. Serve with steamed rice. The chicken can marinate up to 1 day in advance. Adapted from "Simple Chinese Cooking" by Kylie Kwong (Viking Studio, 2007).

Some tips: Have all the ingredients prepped before you start, because the cooking goes quickly. The small amounts of visible fat in the chicken thighs will add flavor, so there's no need to trim. Stir-frying the marinated chicken in two quick batches helps sear the meat and makes it easier to control the garlic's subsequent turn in the wok.

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1 teaspoon sea salt

For the chicken:

1 pound 10 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch slices

1 medium cucumber (unpeeled)

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 cup (about 5 ounces) roasted unsalted cashews

6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry

1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt

3/4 cup finely sliced (crosswise) scallions, white and tender green parts, for garnish

Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

When ready to cook, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the cucumber cut side down on a cutting board; trim off the ends and discard. Slice the remaining cucumber thinly on the diagonal and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a hot wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add half of the marinated chicken and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok, then add the nuts and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, making sure the garlic does not burn. Return all the chicken to the wok and increase the heat to high. Add the wine or sherry and stir-fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the salt and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until the chicken is lightly browned and just cooked through. Add the cucumber and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Divide the chicken and sauce among individual plates and sprinkle scallions over the top. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 569 calories, 44 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 35 g fat, 153 mg cholesterol, 7 g saturated fat, 1,129 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com


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