December 12, 2010

Chicken and Cashew Nut Stir-Fry with Oyster Sauce

A stir-fry is one of my favourite meals. And if I am in the mood for something really nourishing and packed with goodness, it's my number one option. Stir-fries are also incredibly versatile. They work with most meat and you can choose to include pretty much any vegetables you want. Make sure that you do vary the vegetable selection and try some less common vegetables, such as pak choi (Chinese cabbage) or tender-stem broccoli.  The other great addition to a stir-fry is the cashew nut. If you have never tried cashew nuts in a stir-fry then get to it now! Cashew nuts taste great in a savoury meal, and their crunchy texture works perfectly in a stir-fry.

This recipe can also works as a vegetarian dish - just treble the amount of cashew nuts and remove the chicken. Or, just replace the chicken with tofu. If using tofu, make sure you add it at the end of the stir-fry, just before adding the sauce.

Finally, if you don't have a wok don't worry. It's the best to use, but I've made plenty of delicious stir-fries in a good sized pot. But do try to have two wooden spoons or spatulas to cook the stir-fry. In order to stop overcooking the food needs to be constantly moved around the wok, this is easiest to do with two wooden spoons.

Serves 2

2 chicken fillets
1 onion
Selection of vegetables (pick 3-4), such as mushrooms, red pepper, broccoli, green beans, mangetout, or pak choi
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely 
1 inch of ginger, chopped finely 
1 green chili (optional), sliced (I keep the seeds in)
75g cashew nuts
6-7 tbsp Soy sauce (you will need about 4 tbsp for the marinade and the remainder for the sauce)
4 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Nam pla (fish sauce)
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
Olive oil

First prepare the chicken. Do this 2 or 3 hours beforehand if you can. If not, give the chicken at least 10 minutes to absorb some of the flavours. Cut the chicken into good sized chunks. Place in a bowl and add the ginger and garlic, and the chili if you want to add a little spice. Then add the soy sauce - about 4-5 tbsp should ensure that all the chicken pieces are covered. Next, using your hands (make sure they are clean first...) massage the chicken pieces, ensuring that all the flavours from the ginger, garlic, and chili get right into the chicken. Cover the bowl and leave to sit in the fridge. 

To prepare the veg, chop it all into chunks. The key for a stir-fry is that the vegetables maintain their crunch so make sure you don't chop anything up to small. This goes for the onion too. I like to chop an onion into 1.5-2 cm wide rings, then cut each ring in half and peel off the pieces of onion. This means that the pieces of onion won't get lost in the stir-fry and can maintain a nice crunch which is the perfect stir-fry texture. 

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the chicken to the wok along with the rest of the contents of the bowl. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, constantly moving the chicken pieces around the wok. Make sure that the chicken is white all over but don't let it cook too much as this means will be quite tough by the end of cooking.

Add the cashew nuts next and stir-fry for about a minute. 

Then begin adding the veg. If you are using mushrooms I would add these first, to ensure that they are cooked through by the end of the cooking. Leave then to cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the remainder of the veg and stir-fry for 3 minutes, again, making sure that you keep everything constantly moving around the wok.

Next, add the sauce. Add about 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of nam pla (fish sauce). Then add the oyster sauce - about 4 tbsp. Add as much of these sauces as you think necessary, depending on the amount of sauce you would like, and the amount of vegetables you cooked. However, don't add too much soy sauce as this will overpower the oyster sauce. 

To finish off, add some chili flakes if you want some added spice. 

Serve with brown rice or wholewheat noodles. 

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