Easy, quick and delicious. What makes this Chinese cashew chicken truly special is the delicious and flavoursome glaze/coating around each piece of chicken. Not to mention the yummy sauce.
Every bite is as flavoursome as the next, perfect with (and you've guessed it) freshly steamed rice! Or, if you're feeling fancy and keen to visit flavour town, pair this with my fragrant and indulgent Chinese Sausage Fried Rice!
Why order takeout when you can easily make it at home at a fraction of the cost!? Honestly, this is what I tell myself every time I feel lazy and tempt myself with a browse on Deliveroo or UberEats.
- Chicken thighs is preferred over chicken breasts as it yields a juicier and more tender result! Having said this, as long as you marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes, chicken breasts are a slightly leaner option!
- Oyster sauce adds savouriness (umami!) as well as enhancing the flavours of all other ingredients in a dish. Learn more about oyster sauce and how to use it in my Chinese broccoli recipe.
- Shaoxing wine is a Chinese cooking wine (really good quality ones can be consumed as a beverage - but anyone rarely does) that is made with fermented rice. Similar to cooking with red or white wine, Shaoxing wine adds depth, complexity and aroma to a dish. Can be substituted for dry sherry or mirin.
- Cornstarch is one of the key ingredients here! Not only will it create a delicious glaze around each piece of chicken, it also helps thicken the tasty sauce!
- Oil best use neutral-tasting oil with a high smoking point such as canola or sunflower oil.
How to make Chinese cashew chicken
This easy stir fry takes just over 10 minutes to cook!
To start, marinate the chicken thighs for at least 15 minutes. The added cornstarch will help create a glossy glaze around each piece of chicken and tenderise the meat!
When ready to cook, brown chicken on high heat, making sure the outter layer caramelises.
When browning, only turn it once every minute or two. Stirring the chicken constantly will result in juices being released from the chicken and thus stops the caramelisation (too much liquid!)
When stir-frying, caramelisation is crucial. The more colour you get onto the meats and vegetables, the more delicious it becomes. Not only that, soy sauces and oyster sauces also become more complex and flavourful when it gets a chance to caramelise.
Once the chicken is browned but not yet fully cooked, remove from the pan then add garlic, onions, red and green capsicums (bell peppers). About 4 minutes on high heat.
Then, add chicken back into the pan along with roasted cashew nuts. Continue to saute until chicken is fully cooked. To finish off, pour in thickening sauce mixture.
A little tip here: if you find the sauce a little thick (especially when reheating any leftovers), simply add more cold water into the pan and stir. This will help loosen it up, plus more sauce to have with rice!
Tender chicken with plenty of tasty sauce to drizzle over freshly steamed rice!
Tips for making this perfect every time
- Marinate the chicken even 10 minutes is better than none. This not only will help tenderise the chicken through the salt (soy sauce, oyster sauce and salt) and cornstarch, the extra time will allow the flavours of the marinade to sip into the chicken. This is the key to tasty and flavoursome chicken stir-fries, like this healthy and easy Marinated Chicken Stir Fry with Green Beans!
- Have all ingredients laid out before you start cooking. Stir-fries are quick recipes and timing is crucial. This means the entire cooking process is on the go so you need to be prepared! Having the sauces within arms reach will make your life so much easier instead of trying to find a particular sauce mid cooking.
- Use a non-stick pan this recipe uses cornstarch which gets a little sticky. Non-stick pan is particularly important in the first step of sauteeing the marinated chicken thighs. For the outer layer 'glaze' (created by cornstarch and sauces) to caramelise, you don't want it to stick to the bottom of the pan which forms a barrier and prevents the chicken and the 'glaze' to brown. Browning the glaze and chicken creates the most amazing flavours and it'd be a shame without it. If you're using a wok (carbon steel or cast iron), make sure to get the wok really really hot before adding oil. Only add chicken in once the wok starts to smoke a little. This will prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan.
See the lovely glaze/coating around the chicken? It's all flavour! So delicious.
Good to know (FAQs)
It's nutty and savoury with a subtle sweetness from the oyster sauce.
Oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, cornstarch, black pepper and water. The cornstarch and water helps thicken the sauce!
355 calories per serve! This recipe makes enough for 4 servings.
Kung pao chicken is cooked with lots of chilli so it's a spicy dish cashew chicken does not have any spice in it. Also, instead of cashew nuts, peanuts are used for that nutty flavour.
Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container. When reheating, add a little cold water into the pan so that the sauce will loosen again.
A Chinese feast menu
Have a big gathering coming up? Here is a feast worthy menu you can put together!
Serves 6 - 8 hungry bellies
Starter: Pork San Choy Bao refreshing and flavourful.
- This delicious cashew chicken
- Homestyle Soy Sauce Chicken drumsticks
- Chinese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Spring Onions simple and healthy way of cooking fresh fish. It ain't a Chinese feast without fish! If your steamer is big enough, try using a whole fish!
- Pork and Chive Dumplings will sure be a crowd favourite!
- Chinese Broccoli (gai lan) with shiitake and oyster sauce better than yum cha restaurants, all thanks to the super fragrant shiitake mushrooms!
- A choice of Chicken Noodle Stir Fry easy and healthy using fresh hokkien noodles or this fragrant and indulgent Chinese Sausage Fried Rice.
Made this Chinese Cashew Chicken recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
Chinese Cashew Chicken
- 4 large chicken thighs, skinless, boneless about 500g/1lbs, roughly cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
- ½ cup roasted cashew nuts (note 1)
- 1 red capsicum roughly cut into 2.5cm/1inch squares
- 1 green capsicum roughly cut into 2.5cm/1inch squares
- 1 brown onion roughly cut into 2.5cm/1inch squares
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon oil neutral tasting oil such as canola or sunflower
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine substitute: dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup cold water
- Combine chicken with marinade ingredients. Mix well, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet or non-stick frying pan, saute chicken with 1 tablespoon of oil on high heat. Turning every minute for about 4 minutes or until chicken is caramelised but not cooked through. (note 2) Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan (without washing), add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, onions, garlic and capsicums (bell peppers). Cook on high heat until vegetables slightly charred and caramelised (flavour!). About 4 minutes.
- Whilst vegetables are cooking, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well until sauce is smooth and constarch is disolved.
- Add cashew nuts and chicken back into the pan, mix through then pour in prepared sauce. Reduce heat down to medium and stir until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Serve with freshly steamed rice!