Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry

Chicken and Cashew Stir FryThis isn’t so much as stir “fry” as it is a stir “simmer”, because I’m not using a wok, and I’m not cooking it fast over high heat. But the end result looks and tastes much the same.

I’ve been hung up on trying to make a good stir fry for as long as I can remember. I love the idea of stir fries because they are so tasty and they are a great way to eat a variety of vegetables (even my husband, who as a rule hates cooked vegetables, will eat stir fries).

However I have been rather lousy at making them! Every so often I would turn out something tasty, and thinking that this was the magical combination, I’d write down all of the exact measurements and ingredients that I used. Then next time I’d faithfully follow that recipe…..but it was no good! It was blah, bland, boring….what was the problem? Was it because I wasn’t using a wok?

So I bought a wok. Tried my hand at work cooking a couple of times. First time was a great success! Yay, it must be the wok! Wrote down everything I did, then made it again. Eh. Not as good as I remembered. What had I done wrong? I put the wok away (it was a pain to season anyway) and didn’t make a stir fry for ages.

Then recently I found myself with nothing for dinner except some chicken and a bunch of veges that needed eating. Ok then, stir fry, but I’m not using the wok. Back to my trusty stainless steel frying pan. I chopped up the chicken and vegetables and started cooking. Only this time I didn’t measure ANYTHING. I chopped up some garlic and grated some ginger. I splashed in some soy sauce and rice vinegar. I tasted it as I went along and added a little more of this and that, and then finished it with some toasted sesame oil. I ended up with the best stir fry I’d ever made!

To prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke, I made it again (especially for this post!) and again I didn’t measure out anything – I just tasted as I went and adjusted accordingly. The result was another deliciously tasty stir fry!

I can only conclude that “stir fry by intuition” is the way to go, although I do have a couple tips that I’ll share below. For the purpose of having a “recipe”, I’ve tried to guestimate the quantities as a guide, but because no two stir fries are ever the same, plan to taste along the way and add a little more of this, and a little more of that until it tastes just right!

Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry

2 tablespoons coconut oil/ghee
4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (about 1 pound), cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
Soy sauce – 3-4 tablespoons (see note 1)
Rice wine vinegar – about 1 teaspoon (see note 2)
1/2 teaspoon (approx.) Sucanat or coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup cashews (I prefer roasted)
3-4 cups chopped vegetables of your choice (eg. carrots, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms etc)
Red pepper flakes (optional if you’d like a bit of spice)
Toasted sesame oil – about 1 teaspoon (see note 3)
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder mixed in 2 tablespoons cold water (see note 4)

1. Heat oil in a large pan or wok, on medium heat.
2. Add onion and saute for about 5-10 minutes. If using carrots, add these at this point also.
3. Add the chicken, garlic and ginger. Stir it around, then add a couple splashes of soy sauce and the rice wine vinegar. Continue cooking until the chicken is not showing any pinkness (about 5-10 minutes).
4. Add the cashews and vegetables (except zucchini which is easy to overcook). Add a couple more splashes of soy sauce and the sugar. Add red pepper flakes, if using.
5. Simmer until the vegetables are just tender (should be lightly crunchy) and the chicken is cooked through. Towards the end, add any quick cooking vegetables such as zucchini or bok choy.
5. Add a splash or two of toasted sesame oil, then taste and add more soy sauce/rice vinegar/sugar/sesame oil as required. At this point I like it to taste a little on the salty side because it looses some of its saltiness when eaten with rice.
6. At this point, I usually have quite a bit of juice collected in the pan from the chicken and veges. Rather than have a watery sauce, I like to thicken it with arrowroot powder.Turn the heat to the lowest setting and stir in the arrowroot mixture. Stir continuously as it will thicken quickly.
7. Serve over rice, or zucchini noodles to be grain free.

Note 1: I use this brand of soy sauce which is a gluten and wheat-free tamari.
Note 2: Rice vinegar can be purchased either seasoned (with a small amount of sugar and salt) or unseasoned. I use seasoned, but either is fine.
Note 3: Toasted sesame oil lends an authentic flavor to Asian dishes. Only a little is needed otherwise it can be overpowering.
Note 4: Arrowroot is used to thicken the sauce. You can also substitute tapioca starch or corn starch

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Whole Food Wednesday, Allergy Free WednesdaysFull Plate ThursdaysMonday Mania, Homestead BarnhopMake Your Own MondaysReal Food 101, Inspire Me Monday, Fat TuesdayTraditional TuesdaysHearth and Soul Hop

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14 Comment

  1. Kira says: Reply

    Well done for not giving up on good ole stir fry 😉 we love LOVE stir fry in our household! And unfortnately ones in a great while they dont turn out but i guess im lucky enough that they dont care either way heh i love loading up the veggies in them and its a great way to introduce all sorts of things to them 🙂 i also like to use a little yummy fish sauce once in a while, hubster has tryed his hand at stir fry lol when we returned from Hawaii we came home to Kangaroo Stir Fry lol..not my FAV but he did well OK i guess LOL 🙂 (my advice fish sauce and kangaroo….do not work so well together…LOL) I use woks electric skillets and stainless steel pans ive also used the hot plate on the grill 🙂 i personally never use anything to thicken the sauces of the stirfrys though as i dont like the taste or the texture it adds to the dishes.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      I agree, fish sauce is also good to use in stir fries. Kangaroo stir fry?? I’ve never tried kangaroo! I can’t imagine eating kangaroo, but then I eat lambs which are also cute, so I really can’t talk 🙂

  2. Kira says: Reply

    haha yes i too was the same LOL since moving back to oz almost 2 yrs ago now hubby is all about it it took me awhile but i must admit its very very lean and when it is in a form of a steak shouldnt be over cooked or it turns into leather!! lol It isnt an unpleasant taste like i had thought it was.

  3. This looks delicious! I have always liked cashews in stir-fries. I haven’t had them in ages because I don’t really trust the roasted ones that I used to buy pre-real food, and soaking and roasting myself has seemed intimidating. I should really just try it, though. 🙂

    It’s interesting that you think of zucchini as a quick-cooking veggie. I have always considered it a longer-cooking vegetable. But maybe we prefer different levels of doneness. I like mine to be translucent.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      When I find cashews that have been roasted in peanut oil then I buy them, but not if they’ve been roasted in canola oil. Ugh!! I can’t stand transluscent zucchini! 🙂

  4. Your Stir Fry sure looks good. Makes me want to haul out my electric wok. I think I’ve had that old thing for about 25 years, talk about well seasoned 🙂
    I like how you call this your “stir fry by intuition”.
    Adding it to my Must Make list.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Thanks Laureen! Yes, bring out that wok and give it a good work out!

  5. Laura says: Reply

    I love a good stir-fry and chicken and cashews go together perfectly! Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  6. […] Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry by Easy Natural Food. I like how Debbie calls this her “stir fry by intuition”. It looks so good, I can hardly wait to haul out my trusty old electric wok, I think I’ve had that thing for at least 25 years, talk about well seasoned […]

  7. I stir fry ‘by intuition’ a lot and I think it’s the best way! Your recipe sounds delicious. I like the addition of the red pepper flakes – they would give a lovely zing to this dish!

  8. Alea says: Reply

    Your stir-fry “simmer” looks great. Your cooking style sounds a lot like mine. I cook by intuition and am trying to teach my daughter how by encouraging her to experiment and giving her very loose guidelines rather than recipes to follow. I am featuring this post in my highlights on the H&S Hop tomorrow.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      That sounds like a great way to teach your daughter to cook! Thank you so much for featuring this recipe!

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