Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thai Cashew Chicken

When we finally landed in San Francisco after over three weeks in Asia, we only had one thing on our minds—hamburgers. Of course we also had to figure out where to get a hotel and how to get back to Fort Lauderdale with our stand-by tickets, but the immediate concern was a good American meal.

The funny thing is, we weren’t sick of noodles and seafood. We ate beef in Japan more than once, but the point is that we had been eating Asian food for a month, and couldn’t resist the siren call of American comfort food. We wandered the streets of downtown San Francisco passing Asian, Thai, Vietnamese and even Indonesian restaurants that we would ordinarily have been thrilled to see. We wanted to avoid chain restaurants, but in the end we ended up at the Cheese Cake Factory…mmm, sliders.

The next day, we wandered around the Ferry Plaza for hours, and I ended the day, yet again, with a juicy hamburger and sweet potato fries. It was fun to crave this food that I normally feel less than excited about. When we finally did get home, we cooked healthy American recipes, like our staple black bean burritos. The luscious roasted vegetable linguini from my last post was a re-introduction to Italian cuisine. After about 3 weeks without Asian food and craving the exotic once again, we tossed together shrimp, chicken, vegetables and rice vermicelli with a tangy Vietnamese dressing. A few days later, we revisited the dishes we learned at the fantastic cooking school we attended in Thailand and made this recipe.

This is the photo of the cashew chicken as we made it in Thailand. Our home version lived up to the delicious taste memory.

Thai Cashew Chicken (Gai Pad Med Ma-Muang)

Adapted from Bai Pai Cooking School
Mike slices the chicken as thinly as possible so it cooks quickly. Use a very sharp knife and cut at an angle as if you are slicing a flank steak. Dried Thai chiles would be ideal, but the medium-hot chiles de arbol I had on hand worked really well. If you don't have dried chiles, sprinkle in some hot red pepper flakes, since you really should have at least a little heat in this dish. The Thai chili paste is irreplaceable as far as I know. Luckily, you can get it online here and probably in well-stocked markets.

Serves 4

3 tbs. canola oil, divided
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 tbs. Thai chili paste (Mae Pranom brand)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tbs. sugar
6 dried red chiles (such as chiles de arbol)
Generous 1/2 cup raw cashews, toasted (or substitute dry roasted, unsalted cashews)
5 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
Steamed Thai jasmine rice, for serving

Heat 1 tbs. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, season with salt and pepper and stir fry until cooked through. Put the chicken in a bowl and set aside. Repeat with 1 tbs. of the oil and the rest of the chicken.

Add the remaining oil to the empty skillet and heat. Add the chili paste, stirring constantly to break it up for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, red bell pepper, onion, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir well and simmer for 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, return the chicken to the skillet and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and the vegetables are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chiles, cashews and scallions, stir to combine and serve immediately over rice.

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Hamster said...

Hi. If you are interested in Thai cooking be interested in this website.
It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes, it really is possible to crave hamberger and fries.
Your Thai Cashew Chicken looks terrific.

Lydia said...

I love that we now think of black bean burritos as American food! I know what you mean about traveling; whenever we have become immersed in any one culinary style, as soon as we get home we want something different. Makes me realize the incredible variety of foods we have available to us here.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Julie, this looks so tasty!

Julie said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. Lydia, you know it never occurred to me that burritos aren't exactly american...that's so funny. I think that happened because I also would never call this simple stand-by dish of ours real Mexican food. Still, it's an interesting thing to think about.

Donna said...

Hi I wanted to say thank you for sharing this recipe, it was one of the best dishes I have made for my family in a long time.

Julie said...

Your comment made my morning! I love hearing how my recipes turn out for others, especially when the results are so good.

Andrew's Mom said...

I made this and it was fantastic - I left out the red pepper, added a little honey and lots of confetti basil at the end - and it was wonderful! Thank you for a great recipe.

Julie said...

Basil would be great on this! Glad you liked it.

beth said...

Thank you for the recipe, my family loves this meal and it's heathly too!!

Julie said...

Beth: I'm glad your whole family enjoys this meal! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Anonymous said...

You are a pretty woman! And to make things better, the recipes are great!

Yvonne said...

I cooked this for my whole family and some family friends for my mum's birthday. It was a huge hit. It got the most compliments on the night. That Thai paste was amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Julie said...

Yvonne: Thanks for coming back to tell me how it turned out! I'm so glad your family loved it!

Peter said...

Hi Julie, this is a much better recipe than the one I've been using the last few years. I used sesame oil instead of canola and embellished it with a few crushed garlic cloves, a tbsp fish sauce and a tsp sambal oelek to add extra heat. The result was wonderful! Your recipe caught my attention as I have many happy memories of Fort Lauderdale from numerous visits there during the 1990s. Cheers, Peter (South Australia)

Julie said...

Hi Peter: Glad you like the recipe. It's straight from Thailand, so pretty authentic. Thanks for your comment!

Kelly said...

Thanks a million for this recipe - I Cooked it last night, it was delicious, very authentic. I went a little light on the chili as I prefer mine mild.

Chris said...

This is a great recipe! I had had this dish many times at my favourite thai restaurant and wanted to take a chance on making it myself. This is pretty much exactly what I had eaten in the restaurant. The only modifications I made were 1 1/4 tbs. of Sambal Oelek chili paste instead of 2 1/2 and no chilis. Not too sure how spicy the Mae Pranom brand is, but 1 1/4 tbs is just fine for me. I like serving it on coconut rice - 1 can of light coconut milk with 1 cup of aged basmati rice. Adding green pepper is also a great way to get some more color in there. Thanks for sharing!

Kevin McNamara said...

This is a terrific recipe and I felt was as good as any restaurant Thai I've had in a while. We didn't have any Thai chili paste left, so we used 1.5Tbsp Red Curry paste and 2Tbsp Chinese chili paste, as well as dried Thai chilis.

For the sake of your other readers, I will recommend this recipe mod with the caveat that you'd better like some heat, for this was some hairy-chested cuisine! It also helps if you can avoid chomping down on the dried chilis ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, since I came from visiting my son in Las Vegas where they have many Thai restaurants, I have been looking for a good recipe with chicken,pineapple and rice. Yours looks faboulous and I cannot wait to try it. Thanks for sharing. I do not eat shellfish though. What can I substitute for the Oyster sauce and what kind of fish is in the fish sauce. Thanks

Julie said...

I'm not an expert on Asian ingredients, so try googling "substitute for oyster sauce." I'm not sure what goes into fish sauce, it may be a variety of different fish. Again, seek out authoritative advice for your dietary needs. Good luck!

cheap shopping said...

hi very nice recipe

Anonymous said...

This was amazing!!! So easy and nothing went wrong! I've tried cooking asian foods before and i always had problems with the sauce, this time everything was perfect. Now i dont need to use sachets anymore yay and this food didnt hurt my belly even thought it was a bit spicy and i had my doubts about the oyster sauce.. Followed the recipe exactly but served with coconut rice :)
Thank you ill definitely keep this <3

Julie said...

Thanks for coming back and reviewing! I'm thrilled that you liked the recipe!

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