Cashew Chicken

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
cashew chicken
Image by Scott Suchman

This takeout classic was published in the New York Times when Tim Ma and Andrew Chiou from the Lucky Danger were included in a round-up of Asian American chefs celebrating Chinese-American cuisine. Though long on the page, the recipe move quickly–make sure you have your ingredients prepped and ready before starting the stir-fry process.


Serves 6 to 8

    For the chicken and batter:
  • ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • For the breading:
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • For the dish:
  • 2 cups canola oil or peanut oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 4 ounces (drained) canned whole water chestnuts or peeled jicama, diced
  • 2 ounces (drained) canned whole straw mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced rehydrated garlic (or 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 cup whole roasted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of MSG
  1. Batter the chicken: In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cornstarch, flour, and Shaoxing wine with 2 tablespoons water. Mix by hand until chicken is evenly coated.
  2. Make the breading: In a separate medium bowl, sift together breading ingredients. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, drop each battered piece into breading and lightly toss to coat. (Do not press the breading into the chicken.) Shake excess breading off, then place chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet, leaving space between each piece.
  3. Prepare the dish: In a wok or skillet, heat oil to 325 degrees. Gently drop chicken into oil, one piece at a time, spacing them out so they don’t stick together. Let them fry, undisturbed until deeply golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. Turn off hear and carefully pour oil into a heatproof container or pot to discard once it cools. Using a paper towel held by tongs, carefully scrape out any specks from the wok or  pan. (Do not rinse the wok.)
  5. Return wok to medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir-fry until the garlic and celery become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Push vegetables to one side of the wok. Add sugar to the center and let sit, undisturbed, for several seconds to encourage caramelization. Then, add soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir until sugar dissolves. Toss vegetables into sauce and let sauce come to a full boil, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in fried chicken and cashews, followed by cornstarch slurry. Remove from heat. Stir in sesame oil and MSG.
  • Recipe by Andrew Chiou and Tim Ma, Lucky Danger, Washington D.C.

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