Cashew Chicken

There are two cookbooks I cut my teeth on back my mid-20s in the mid-90s — The Betty Crocker Cookbook and The Better Homes & Garden Cookbook. I owe both of these red clad books a lot. I learned so much about how to make the foods that I had always liked, but I also learned new recipes that I could make with stuff I happened to have in my apartment. All of the recipes in both books are accessible to the average home cook and all of the ingredients can be found at a regular grocery store. I salute both of these cookbooks for giving me the confidence to dive into real cooking.

I loved this recipe for Chicken and Cashews from the first time I made in in roughly 1994. It was always my favorite thing to get for dinner at the Shun Lee Palace in Charlotte. One day when I was craving Cashew Chicken, I was so happy to see a recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Fast forward 25+ years… I was kind of surprised tonight when I really sat down and looked at the ingredient list. This recipe really holds up well after all of these years. I have made some tweaks and adjustments to the recipe over time, but fundamentally it is still the same Betty Crocker recipe that I tried for the first time when I was 20. And it is still always a favorite when it lands on the dinner table.

Cashew Chicken

For Chicken marinade:

1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

For vegetables and sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 large red pepper, cut into strips

1 medium onion, sliced

1 8.5 ounce can of bamboo shoots, cut into 1/4 wide strips

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger

3 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons chili paste

2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)

1/2 cup unsalted or lightly salted cashews

1/4 cup chopped green onions

Whisk together egg white, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and the white pepper in glass or plastic bowl; stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch, the water and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken pieces and cooking, stirring frequently, until chicken pieces have browned. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add onions and peppers, and cook until onions start to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add bamboo shoots and stir until heated through.

Add chicken back to skillet and stir to combine chicken and vegetables. Stir in hoisin sauce, chili paste and vinegar. Heat for about 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth (or water) and heat to boiling. Combine cornstarch, water abd soy sauce mixture and pour into pan. Cook and stir constantly until sauce is thickened, about 20 seconds. Stir in cashews and green onions. Serve over rice.


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