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Mar 20, 2012

Simple Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry







Or otherwise known as Kung Pao Chicken.

I wouldn't dare claim for this to be typically Kung Pao. I've massacred the original Kung Pao recipe to suit my chompbuds. The real stuff Kung Pao uses Szechuan peppercorns ... yup, origin: Szechuan Province. And unless you like the numbing sensation of the Szechuan peppers, I'd suggest you omit them.
I did say this was simple. So, simple it shall be with no fancy ingredients, just the usual sauces and stuff you'd find in a standard asian pantry, fridge and freezer.
(Except in my case, you get 5 cans of corn and quince paste, which is anything but standard. And if you have no idea what I'm jabbering about, please visit the post previous to this one. Thank you).



INGREDIENTS

about 2 cups chicken meat, bite sized
2 onions, cut into wedges
4 - 5 dried chillies
1 small bunch scallions, cut into 1" stalks / chopped (or substitute with green/red bell peppers)
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese thick soy sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tbs oil
1 tbs cornflour

*Note: feel free to adjust the amount of the sauces to suit your taste.



METHOD

Toss chicken and cornflour together.
Soak dried chillies in some water to soften. Remove seeds and drain.
Heat oil in pan.
Saute onions and dried chillies until lightly browned.
Stir in chicken and stir fry until browned. (Add bell peppers, if using, and stir for a minute or so).
Stir in sauces.
Turn off the heat and stir in scallion and cashews.
Serve hot with fluffy rice.

PS: Remove dried chillies before serving or you're gonna drain your district dam. For the sadistic ones, chew on them. Naw ... it's not that bad, but don't take my word for it.





90 comments:

  1. I never actually had "real" kung pao chicken, so I wouldn't know if this was a massacre of the recipe or not. To be honest, it's a mystery to me why someone would want to inflict intense chilli pain on themselves anyway - your version sounds a bit (just a bit!) tamer, although I'd definitely be hauling those chillies out at the end of the cooking process :D

    The chicken looks yummy - nice and golden. Is it crispy because of the cornflour, or...?

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    1. LOL! It's good that I added the extra step to soak and remove the chilly seeds then. Mum used to leave them in for the extra oomph.
      The chicken doesn't turn out crisp. The cornflour gives the meat a smoother and silkier texture.
      Hope you'll like this. Just reduce the number of chilies if it scares you :-)

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  2. your simple version of Kung Poh Chicken look nice too!

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  3. Hi Ping, wow... so delicious lei. Lovely color, I love the combo of cashew nuts and chicken.
    How nice if we are neighbors, can exchange some of our cooking and kuih. LOL

    Have a nice day.

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    1. Thanks, Amelia. You know, we should start a housing community ... Foodies only! There's going to be tons of food flying around. Now, a more realistic idea would be if you moved to KL. :D

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    2. Hi Ping, moved to KL?? I think not possible cos we are so near to S'pore. hehehe
      But it's nice if can have a Foodies only... and the housing estate flooded with food. So meanwhile day dreaming first. hahaha
      If I happen to be in KL, will let you know. My SIL in staying in Kelana Jaya.

      Have a nice day.

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  4. I am with you, this does not remind me to Kung Pao chicken, more like a fiery version of chicken with cashews. I've always thought Kung Pao chicken had peanuts but I've also had it without so I guess there is no rule. Those dried chilis add awesome flavor.

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    1. I'm not a fan of peanuts, altho I'd eat peanut butter out of its bottle ... go figure. I'm one complicated person. I guess the nut-less version would be suited to those with allergies etc. And you're right. Without the chillies, it's not worth the effort ... not that this recipe takes too much of it :)

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    2. Newsflash, peanut butter out of the bottle contains peanuts:)

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  5. Whatever you may like to call it, this sure is a very tasty dish, thank you for sharing :)

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    1. Yes it is and you're very welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. But but but... I LIKE chilies!!! :) I suspect i'll toss chili flakes in instead and just chomp right along with them - or would that be terribly un-authentic? I noticed good restaurants all use the whole things, but they sort of look cool so I wondered if that is why! And by the way, that looks as gorgeous as your food always does!

    I never realized it was this easy. I MUST do this, and soon. *checks calendar*

    I love cashew chicken. It would kill my boyfriend. Note to self, buy a handful of cashews and cook when boyfriend is out to a conference for a couple of days (it's when I eat my walnuts to avoid him inhaling walnut powder, too...). ;) Would it be ok to substitute some blanched almonds (that won't kill him)? Or would that totally ruin the taste?

    - Veronika

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  7. But but but... I like chilies! Considering making this with dried chili flakes and just nomming them alongside it all. And I love Chinese food! And yours looks SO much better than what you get here at restaurants!

    A few questions as usual... tall&handsome is deathly allergic to cashews. Would it be very very unauthentic to sub them for blanched almonds so he doesn't die, or should I just make this next time he's on a conference and out of the house for a couple of days? (It's how I eat walnuts that I keep in airtight jar the rest of the time so he doesn't inhale their deadly dust...)

    - Veronika

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    1. Ok, V, I seriously get the idea you don't want the bf to die. :) Well, the original Kung Pao uses peanuts but I don't like them in this. The roasted cashews have a nice flavor that compliments everything BUT of course, you can substitute for almonds. But (again) I'd suggest you try this out WITH the dried chillies AND the cashews when bf is not around AS WELL so you'll get the great flavors together.... at least once, just to know what it's all about. The dried chillies gives a different flavor the whole thing. It isn't just for the fire. It's basically to flavor the oil. Big no-no with chilly flakes ... sorry :(

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  8. Ping, I am so happy to see this dish here! I'm not the only one adding cashews to chicken stir-fries and not caring to reproduce any "original" recipe :-) (I buy cashew nuts in 1 kg bags and use them all the time for an additional crunch and grilled taste). Actually I have never cooked a real chicken kung pao...
    Your dish sounds fantastic! I never use hoisin sauce (I have had it for two years I think...), so I will add it next time to my usual stir-fry.
    You have just reminded me I still haven't cooked anything from one of my Christmas presents: a Szechuan cookery book! I love the numbing effect of Szechuan pepper, but it's easy to exaggerate with it.
    Thank you for this inspiring post!

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    1. Thanks, Sissi. Looks like our similar tastes in food have been proven time after time and now this time :)
      I hardly use hoisin as well but it seemed to go pretty well in this ... it's quite sweet and I use it very sparingly.
      You're certainly going around the world with your cooking. I guess after your Indian series, it's going to be Szechuan :) Oh yes, the peppercorns ... I'd just had a Szechuan style hotpot and thank goodness for the numbing effect coz the chillies in there were fiery!! and I couldn't stop eating either! Oh boy!

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    2. You know, I find hot dishes gradually addictive. We get more and more used to hotness and even though I don't have chilies every day, if I don't have them for several days I feel something important is missing and I start craving them really badly!
      Haha! You have made me understand why Szechuan pepper is useful! It paralyses the tongue and the palate, so the chili peppers are not that hot because one doesn't feel anything any more ;-)

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  9. I love kung pao chicken and I prefer your method than the original one. Simple and easy :)

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    1. Hi Ann! Thanks! Yeah, that's my life motto ... live simple. Better than calling myself lazy, I suppose :)

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  10. Ping, since I've gotten rid of my super-deluxe authentic stainless steel stir-fry set that was just sitting around in my cupboard along with the eighties electric stir-fry, I've found a beautiful non-stick sturdy one with double handles and I use that one for several months now for so many uses.
    I haven't made Kung Pao cashew chicken in ages, and I love your simple method. I do like it quite spicy, but not so spicy that I would be "gaggin" from the heat!
    Thanks for sharing your amazing simple recipe...it's a keeper!

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    1. Hi Elisabeth! Thank you! This isn't gagging spicy at all. In fact I thought it a little too mild but some folks seem to think the chillies should be omitted. Haha! That's the whole base flavor of this dish ... sigh.
      I, too, have a simple 2-handled non-stick wok. Nothing like the ones my mum and aunties used ... cast iron and ginormous in size. They don't believe in non-stick surfaces. I'd lose half my food to the wok if I used that :)

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  11. Looks so delicious Ping!I love Chinese food and cannot wait to maker this :)Thanks for a great recipe :)

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  12. I thought for sure I already commented on this, must of been my computer went wonky in the middle of the comment! :)

    Anyway this looks amazing, if I conme over to visit will you make this for me? ;D

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    1. Haha! I get that too sometimes. And it's most annoying when I'd typed out a whole long thing and it doesn't appear! :(
      I'd make this for you definitely. So when can I expect you? :D

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  13. I love Kung Po Chicken too but not sure how to cook it. Now i know.

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    1. Awww ... what a cute kitty.
      This is by no means comparable to the ones you get at the Chinese restaurants. It's just a really basic one without all the fancy doodah ingredients .. enough to satisfy a Kung Pao crave :D
      Thanks for dropping by!

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  14. Mine is the least Asian pantry around, I do have soya sauce though... but the simplicity of this dish really appeals to me. Just watch me omit the chillies altogether... well I may put in a tiny flake. What would I call it? The simplest cashew chicken stir-fry? :-)

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    1. LOL!!! You crack me up, ZsuZsa! A tiny flake!
      Unfortunately, as I was saying to Elisabeth, the dried chillies actually makes the base flavor of this dish. But, seriously, if you'd just remove the seeds, I promise you won't be steaming from your ears :D Or just reduce the number of chillies.

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  15. I love this version of chicken kung pao chicken! I have to try it!

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    1. Please do. Tell me if you like it .... or not :D

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  16. I love your recipes. I should bookmark this one too!

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    1. Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy this one!

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  17. Your pictures and recipe both are delightful. Bookmarking this for the weekend.

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    1. Thank you! Hope you'll like this!

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  18. Oh, I LOVE that you've toned down the spice! Much more suitable for the family's tender palates :/ A must try for sure!

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    1. Yeah, think I've toned it down a little too much ... it doesn't have the usual oomph :)
      But I guess we're more used to chillies around here. Do let me know if you like it.

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  19. We get Kung Pao chicken from the local Chinese take-away all the time! I love the combination of chicken and cashews... It is often too spicy for my two-year old, and so I often 'wash' the chicken bits by rolling it around in the fried rice :) I love your recipe, Ping! And I am going to make this soon! Gorgeous picture too!

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    1. Thanks, Marsha, altho I'm not sure if this is comparable to the one you had. But who knows ...
      This one's definitely mild so I hope your little one can enjoy it as well without having all the sauce 'washed' off :)

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  20. Love this kid friendly version of Kung Pao Chicken, Ping! Perfect for my girls!

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    1. Kid-friendly ... haha! I should have named it such :)
      Thanks, Tina!

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  21. This has got to be my favourite chicken stir-fry....with lots of nuts!

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    1. Yeah, sometimes I think I have more cashews than chicken in it :D

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  22. Oh me oh my!!! All your cooking so real-pro one! Better don't drop by my blog - such a disgrace, cukup sendiri makan one...

    Anyway, thanks for dropping by. Welcome and do come again. I've linked you in my blogroll.

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    1. No way! It's anything but pro ... but thanks for that. If you'll notice, everything's super easy .. except maybe one or two. I couldn't be bothered with fancy, intricate stuff .. who has the time?
      I do like your blog. It's honest, down-to-earth and funny. I eat those foods that you cook too ... daily... maybe not fried maggi mee tho :) And I will be dropping by very often ... get used to it :)
      Thanks for linking me!

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  23. Oh my! Another lovely dish.. This maybe simple but it's packed with flavours. Just loved the taste and the cashews really takes up this dish up a notch. I could just eat this with a bowl of rice. Yummmmm!!!

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    1. Hi Jo. I haven't met anyone who doesn't like Kung Pao chicken. It's such a classic, isn't it? Yeah, I'm happy with just this one dish and rice .... simple pleasures. Thanks for dropping by.

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  24. Chompbuds - hee.hee....I've had numerous numbing experiences in my life so I'll leave the Szechuan peppers out of the picture ;-). Love the simplicity of this dish and the full-flavours. I don't think I've ever come across 'thick' soy sauce (does it come under a specific name?). Are you using cornflour as your thickening agent? (what we call cornstarch here or is it something else?) - I ask all this because you can bet I'm going to be making it! :). Thanks Ping. Keep the simple dishes coming!!

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    1. Hi Kelly! Haha! I'm not a fan of Szechuan peppercorns either. Biting into regular peppercorns are bad enough for me :P
      Thick soy sauce ... hmm ... caramel soy, dark soy, kicap manis ... some of them vary in sweetness. You may have to adjust the amount if you get the really sweet ones. I'm not too sure what kind of brands you have over there. The consistency of the soy is like caramel, thick and gooey and really dark. Hope that helps.
      The cornflour/cornstarch in this case gives the chicken a smoother and silkier texture, not so much a thickening agent since there isn't much sauce, just enough to coat. Oh, you can add a dash of Chinese rice wine, if you like.
      I'm hoping you'll like this. It's not restaurant standard but we like it a lot :)
      Enjoy!

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  25. Congrats ! today your turn to be on Top 9 !!! :)))

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    1. Hi Elin! Haha! Isn't it nice to take turns? :D Thank you!

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  26. Love this stir fry. It is bursting with flavours yet such a simple dish! Great post

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, this one's a great go to dish :)

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  27. Yum! A restaurant dish with ingredients I already have in the kitchen - what's not to love?! Love these flavours. Now the only dilemma is noodles or rice...

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    1. Thanks, Hester! I wouldn't dare compare this to the ones at the restaurants :)
      Hmm ... I've never had it with noodles. Great idea! And when in doubt, do both! :D

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  28. WOW! this looks so good. I LOVE kung pao anything. all of the these flavors have me slightly drooling on my keyboard! thanks for sharing your take on a delicious classic.

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    1. Hello Sando. Thank you! You know, I've never had kung pao anything else besides chicken :) I must be missing out on something ... gotta check it out. Thanks for coming by.

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  29. This looks absolutely delicious, can't wait to try!

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    1. Thank you, Eric! Hope you enjoy it!

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  30. Thanks for finding my typo, Ping...yes, it's vanilla extract! xo

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  31. Oh, and aren't the 'simple' recipes always the best?! I've opened my laptop this morning and seen this recipe and I'm wanting to make it now! :) Better eat breakfast first, I think!

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    1. Yes, simple is usually good, isn't it. I seem to be doing that a lot lately, even for the coconut pie :) Hope you enjoy this!

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  32. You are right Ping, I do have all the ingredients in my pantry. It is funny I was looking for Szechuan peppercorns at the market yesterday but no luck.

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    1. Hey Karen! The peppercorns are probably at the asian grocers. It also gives the dish a rather gritty texture on top of the numbing feel to the tongue. It's up to you whether you want to include it in the dish. Be warned that you don't thpeak like thith after that :)

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  33. I am a huge cashew freak and soon is the season staring where I can start roating them myself. =D cant wait to try your recipe then!

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    1. Cashew freak ... LOL!! I'd just read your "Drumstick Cashew Curry". Sounds fantastic! You're lucky to get them locally. We get ours from Thailand and they're not cheap. I'm too addicted to care at this point :)

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  34. haven't eat this in a long while. your good looking one is making me craving for some!

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    1. I remember Esquire Kitchen used to serve a good one but their standards have dropped and also their prices have gone wonkers! So, when in desperation .... :)

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  35. The food looks so delicious and is presented so beautifully

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  36. Miss U Ping! :)
    and please send me this with 2 plate hot steamed rice :)))

    congratulation on top 9

    xoxo

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    1. Hi Citra! Miss you too! Hope you're feeling good these days.
      Haha! I would send this to you if you weren't so far away :)

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  37. I am now feeling the need to work the word "chompbuds" into my vocabulary. I love cashews, and this recipe looks awesome.

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    1. Hehe ... glad you approve of my vocabulary :) Thanks!

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  38. This is so mouthwatering no wonder why it made it to the foodbuzz 9!

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    1. Hi Katerina, thank you very much! So happy you stopped by :)

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  39. Congrats on top 9! Luckily I see this after we met today, if not you will see a GREEN eye monster! hahaha... A dish that my Quay Lo will sure said NICE!

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. Nah, you're too nice to be a monster, green-eyed or whatever color. Besides, I think you'd do a better version of this than I can. This is my "banana" version.

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  40. The Kung Pao has such a brilliant color--tops the best of the best restaurant made ones out there. Fabulous!!

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    1. Hi Malli. Thank you so much for the compliment and thanks for dropping by :)

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  41. love the straw/stirrer you have there.

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    1. Straw stirrer? Oh, haha! don't know how this comment came here instead of at the "Passionade" post, but thanks, Amanda!

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  42. Looks Delicious ! Will try this recipe. Thank you.

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    1. Hello, Ruwani. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for the visit :)

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  43. What an amazing recipe! I am making a note

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