Thai Chicken with Cashews is my very, very, very favorite dish of all time.
Whenever someone asks me what my last meal would be, I don’t even hesitate. Thai Chicken with Cashews, every single time. Add a cold glass of Thai Iced Tea and I’m in absolute heaven.
When I was going to university, my good friend Scott kept telling me about this Thai restaurant he was going to and I kept turning my nose up at it. I’d never had Thai food, and I was not really that interested in trying it.
He finally convinced me to go one time when I was really, really hungry and would have eaten anything, and I’m SO glad he did. My life was forever changed!
Being a first-timer, Scott had me order Pad Thai (which I also adore), but my real love affair with Thai food happened during a visit home to Portland with my friend Laura. We went to this restaurant called Thai Mango and I ordered the Thai Chicken with Cashews on a whim.
Suffice it to say that it is the single most delicious dish on the planet.
Sadly, I tried to take the husband there yesterday and it was CLOSED. I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m making a really pathetic sad face.
And now I’m making a happy face because I remembered that I can make this deliciousness at home! Yay!
Just look at it! It’s glistening. It wants to be consumed.
Don’t be afraid of the dried red peppers – they just add a bit of heat to the sauce then serve as a garnish. I’ve taken an adventurous nibble of the peppers from time to time, but I’d caution you to just let them be pretty on your plate and not eat them.
The other kind of “strange” ingredients you need would be Fish Sauce and Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. You can buy these in any Asian grocery mart, and I can sometimes find it in large supermarkets on the Asian foods aisle. Here’s a link to the brand of Sweet Dark Soy Sauce I use and here’s the fish sauce I buy on the regular.
You might notice the fork and spoon shown in the pictures. The lovely Nicole over at The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie emailed me recently asking about my experiences in Thailand.
One of the things I shared with her was that Thais never eat directly off of a fork because it is considered “crude” (like eating steak directly off of a knife here in the States). Instead, they hold the fork in their left hand and use it to scoop food onto the spoon held in the right hand, then eat directly off of the spoon.
I like to eat Thai food this way at home because it makes me feel special.
If you’re looking for something delicious to go with this stir-fry, I’d highly recommend a cool, refreshing Thai Cucumber & Cashew Salad. It goes so, so well with this one!
One last piece of advice before I hand the recipe over to you: when I say “Stir-Fry”, I mean “stir, THEN fry.” The purpose of stir-frying is to let the ingredients fry and get a lovely brown color before you stir it to keep it from burning. Let the food fry for about 30 seconds at a time before stirring it, and make sure you are using medium-high heat.
If you stir it too much, or fry it over too low of a heat, the dish won’t turn out right. The chicken will poach from the steam and be white rather than brown.
Nobody likes white, poached chicken.
I use this wok whenever I cook stir-fry (and I love it so much I got one for my sister, too!). If you don’t have a wok, just use the biggest saute pan you have.
Okay, you’ve paid your dues by reading through all of this so I will reward you with the recipe. Stay hungry, my friends.
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ small yellow onion, quartered
- 4 finger-length dried red chilies (such as chile de arbol), seeded and cut into halves
- ½ cup roasted cashew nuts
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin pieces (about one large chicken breast – hold your knife at an angle and slice against the grain to get the thinnest pieces possible)
- 1 green onion, cut into 1” lengths
- Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough to produce a sizzle when a drop of water hits it, add in all of the cashew nuts. Fry the cashews until they turn light brown, just a few minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and set them on a paper towel to rest.
- Add the garlic, onion, and dried red chilies to the oil. Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes or until you can start to smell the spicy aroma of the chilies. Add in the chicken and continue to stir-fry until the chicken turns opaque and is cooked through (about 4-5 minutes). Return the cashews to the pan and toss to distribute around the pan.
- Add the sauce to the wok and toss all of the ingredients to coat them well. Turn off the heat and add in the chopped scallions. Serve immediately with a side of jasmine rice.