Sweet and Tangy Cashew Chicken

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This delicious cashew chicken recipe was half an exercise in my ongoing project to recreate my favorite take-out dishes from scratch (including lemon tofu, general tso’s tofu, and pad thai), half an attempt to clear what leftovers I could from our fridge before we left to spend the holidays with Alex’s family in New England. I managed to burn both the cashews and myself over the course of this whole process, but our dinner still emerged from the wok in top form, tasting wonderful!

One thing I didn’t manage, though, was posting this recipe before hopped in the car for our long pilgrimage North. In the chaos of spending just thirty minutes shy of forty-eight hours straight awake to facilitate the trip, it completely slipped my mind. A full Friday of work, running errands, preparing meals to eat along the way, and packing the car rolled right into an hour-long nap, 3:00AM wake-up call, and 5:00AM departure.

Thankfully, though, I uploaded a few pictures before we left! I don’t have many shots for this cashew chicken recipe due to a somewhat failed lighting experiment, but the two that I do have are decent enough to post. Learning how to take proper photos has been something of a learning curve, and I haven’t quite mastered it yet. Practice makes perfect, though, and I am looking forward to improving even more in the new year!

Crisp vegetables, crunchy nuts, tender chicken, and a well-rounded sauce packed with umami flavors help elevate this cashew chicken dish far above what you can get at your local delivery joint–and in the same amount of time, too! I am very proud that this was my last “new” dish of 2019. The first batch of leftovers barely lasted twenty-four hours in the fridge before being eaten–the true sign of a successful recipe. I’m really looking forward to a new year of culinary adventures as I continue learning how to cook. Who knows what the new year will bring!

This recipe makes four (4) servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 yellow squash, medium
  • 2 bell peppers, red
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, whole
  • 1/2 cup cashews, roasted
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of 1 lime
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp gochugaru/red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water

Directions:

  1. In a dry nonstick pan on medium-low heat, gently roast cashews for 5-7 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop onion, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Rinse and set aside.
  3. Slice chicken into roughly bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch. Add to a small bowl and toss with minced garlic, minced ginger, sesame oil, white pepper, and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients (soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic powder, gochugaru, cornstarch dissolved in water) and stir to combine. Set aside.
  5. Heat wok to medium-high/high. When hot, add chicken to wok and immediately begin stirring. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until chicken has begun to brown on the edges. Remove from wok and set aside.
  6. Add chopped vegetables and whole mushrooms to the still-hot wok and immediately begin stirring. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables have begun to brighten in color and soften.
  7. Add sauce mixture and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until sauce has begun to thicken.
  8. Return chicken to the wok and add roasted cashews. Toss to coat, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and add lime juice and lime zest. Stir to incorporate.
  10. Serve over white rice, topped with additional cashews, lime juice, and sesame seeds.

This recipe keeps wonderfully in the fridge for a few days, although the cashews start to get a bit soft after twenty-four hours. That didn’t bother us, though! You can easily reheat this in the microwave and have delicious and healthy lunches for the week without worry.

Sweet and Tangy Cashew Chicken

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 354kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 yellow squash medium
  • 2 bell peppers red
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms whole
  • 1/2 cup cashews roasted
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of 1 lime

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp gochugaru/red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water

Instructions

  • In a dry nonstick pan on medium-low heat, gently roast cashews for 5-7 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  • Roughly chop onion, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Rinse and set aside.
  • Slice chicken into roughly bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch. Add to a small bowl and toss with minced garlic, minced ginger, sesame oil, white pepper, and black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients (soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, rice vinegar, garlic powder, gochugaru, cornstarch dissolved in water) and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Heat wok to medium-high/high. When hot, add chicken to wok and immediately begin stirring. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until chicken has begun to brown on the edges. Remove from wok and set aside.
  • Add chopped vegetables and whole mushrooms to the still-hot wok and immediately begin stirring. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables have begun to brighten in color and soften.
  • Add sauce mixture and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until sauce has begun to thicken.
  • Return chicken to the wok and add roasted cashews. Toss to coat, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add lime juice and lime zest. Stir to incorporate.
  • Serve over white rice, topped with additional cashews, lime juice, and sesame seeds.
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