Chicken with Cashews

This is a home version of an extremely popular restaurant dish. I recommend you find a purveyor of free-range, organic chicken: you will be amazed by the difference in flavor (you will find that you can actually detect the lack of antibiotics and other chemicals normally present in conventionally farmed chicken!) AND you will be supporting a more sustainable style of farming. To find a vendor near you, check out your local farmers’ market or visit Local Harvest.

ingredients:

  • 12 oz chicken breast meat, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 green or red or ??? bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved for making broth, caps cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root
  • 1 scallion, thinly cut on the diagonal
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 c roasted unsalted cashew halves

marinade:

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 T water

sauce:

method:

  1. Combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients and set aside for 30 m.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 T oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers.
  4. Drain as much marinade as possible off the chicken, then add the chicken to the wok, stirfrying on high heat until the pieces separate and begin to turn white, then remove to a plate.
  5. Add 1 T oil, explode the ginger and scallion until fragrant, then add the bell pepper, mushrooms, and salt, stirfrying for approximately 1 m.
  6. Give the sauce a stir and add to the wok along with the chicken.
  7. Stirfry continuously until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce’s starchy taste is cooked out.
  8. Adjust seasoning, top with cashews, and serve.

nutritional data:

This dish may appear to be surprisingly high in calories and fat, but much of the fat content (and hence the calories) come from the cashews, which are high in “good fat.” I have reduced the fat content of the original recipe by using roasted cashews (most restaurants will fry them) and stirfrying the chicken rather than cooking by a method called “passing through the oil,” which is basically deep frying without a breading. Just imagine the fat content, then, of what appears to be a fairly healthy dish on a restaurant menu…. To reduce the fat content more, you could actually steam the marinated chicken briefly and omit the step of stirfrying it – for me, it’s usually a question of how many pots and pans I want to wash, so I opt for the wok and just serve vegetable-centric dishes alongside to balance things out. If the sodium content alarms you, you could omit the salt added to the vegetable stirfrying and/or reduce/omit the amount of soy sauce in the sauce, but of course you would lose a lot of flavor. This recipe is very high in protein since both the chicken and the cashews contain goodly amounts.

This recipe serves 4 as part of a larger meal, and nutrition data is given per serving.

  • Total calories 304, calories from fat 139
  • Total fat 16 g, saturated fat 3 g
  • Cholesterol 49 mg
  • Sodium 639 mg
  • Total carbs 16 g, dietary fiber 2 g, sugars 4 g
  • Protein 24 g
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