Proving that not every kitchen tool is expensive is my $17 carbon steel wok. Purchased in Vancouver’s chinatown it is one of my favorite kitchen tools to work and stir-fry with, stir-fries like this cashew chicken recipe.
Now, as you probably know the key to stir-fry is quick movement, high heat, preparation and not crowding the pan, so if you try and double the recipe, you may need a bigger wok, or a slightly different approach. If you don’t have a wok, the next best thing is a cast iron pan.
Cashew Chicken Recipe(serves 2)
Cut the chicken breast into very small bite sized pieces. In a mortar and pestle crush the tablespoon of cashews into a fine powder. Toss the chicken with the cashew crumbs and 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch. Once combined stir in 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and a pinch of white pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes, or at least while you prep the vegetables and the nuts.
Heat a small pan to medium low heat. Add the cashews and toss regularly until toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Trim the ends off the scallions and then chop the white parts large, and finely chop the green parts. Keep separate. Chop the vegetables into large bite sized pieces. Slice the garlic and the ginger.
In a small bowl stir together the chicken stock, hoisin sauce, remaining soy sauce and remaining cornstarch.
Heat a wok to high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil and when it starts to smoke add the garlic, ginger, and the white part of the scallions, stir fry for 30 seconds and then add the chicken. Stir fry until just cooked, remove everything to a plate. Turn down the heat on the wok and wipe clean with a a paper towel.
Heat the wok to high again and add remaining oil. Stir fry the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook. As a cheat, you can always add a few tablespoons of water to help the vegetables cook with a bit of steam. When vegetables have started to soften return the chicken to the wok, along with the cashews and the remaining green onions. Pour in the broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 1 minute. If it hasn't thickened then you may want to add more corn starch. Stir a teaspoon of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water and stir the mixture into simmering sauce. Always give the cornstarch 1 minute at a simmering temperature to thicken.
Taste and season with more white pepper and soy sauce until it is well seasoned. Serve hot with rice.