Monday, April 8, 2013

Cashew Chicken – Keeping it Not Real

Grilling season is rapidly approaching, and chances are good that at some point you’ll be faced with a few leftover grilled chicken breasts. Will you take the easy way out, and make chicken salad? Or, will you be brave and attempt something way more interesting, like this Cashew Chicken? Probably the chicken salad, but I decided to post this just in case.

Yes, I’m at it again, making food that’s not trying to be Asian, yet looks close enough to upset people anyway. I can’t do anything about that, and won't be dissuaded from using sweet, rich cashews, and a spicy, sweet and sour sauce to disappear some leftover, grilled chicken just because some people will get annoyed.

Sure, there are a hundred ways to make it “better” or more “authentic,” but on a weeknight after a long day at work, with your show coming on in 20 minutes, none of that matters. This isn't about what you think when you taste it; it’s about what you don’t think. And what you don’t think is, “this is leftover chicken.”

Having said all that, I would be shocked and amazed if you didn’t tweak this to your own personal tastes. It really is a versatile recipe, and one I hope you try soon. Now, get out there and grill too much chicken, and as always, enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large portions:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6-8 thin slices of fresh ginger root
1 hot red chili pepper, sliced
1/2 cup dry roasted cashews
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 pound cooked chicken breast (about 2-3 breasts), cut into 1-inch cubes
For the sauce:
1/2 cup cold water or chicken broth, more as needed
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce, more as needed
2 tsp sambal (hot ground chili sauce)
1 packed tbsp brown sugar
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

View the complete recipe

21 comments:

Jim Weber said...

great recipe, I always have leftover chicken breast and 90% of the time have the remainder of the ingredients!

Bill R said...

pineapple goes well in this one.

Bill R said...

pineapple goes well in this one.

ChurroPhan said...

I'm one of those Asian foodie friends...and this looks delicious!

Monica said...

I nearly always make leftover chicken into Indian food and use a bought source. The other alternative is Thai as I have so much of that green paste. May try this as chicken is so tasteless without an exotic sauce.

WatchLearnEat! said...

This is such a great way to use leftover grilled chicken, especially now that barbecue season is upon us! I love using leftovers to create new meals!

Steven Mon said...

Any time you use garlic, ginger, and soy sauce in a dish, that's "authentic Asian" to me!

shesfiction said...

Hey Chef
How integral would you say the ketchup component is to the non complexity of this sauce? ......if I didn't know it was in there it probably wouldnt have been an issue but since i'll be the one making it and I have a mild ketchup phobia I'm just wondering if I can make an altered version or just leave this recipe alone altogether. I do like cashew chicken though....
Sincerely,
-A Very Strange Fan.

Chef John said...

Just suck it up, and put it in! It's only a tablespoon. You'll never taste ketchup. #toughlove

Donna said...

What a brilliant way to use cooked chicken breast
for a quick weeknight meal .. .
I plan on trying this recipe using rotisserie chicken
from the supermarket.

Sandra FromMontreal said...

This will definitely be on the menu this weekend!

Gary said...

Ketchup...so plebeian.

Ok, ok, I'll trust you!

Aly Casilla said...

Nice and simple, my way of recycling... but may I do this with pistachios instead of cashews?

Steve said...

This turned out INCREDIBLY!!!!! I didn't have leftover grilled chicken (and sadly I don't have a grill) so I fired up the George Foreman and went to town. I don't recommend it though, it leaves a tough caramelizedish skin on the chicken which makes cubing it a bear! Thanks Chef! I will make this again and again!

Aaron said...

I really enjoyed this quick meal. I made one for the kids with less heat and one for the adults following the recipe and it turned out very close to what I could expect from a Chinese restaurant!

The recipe version really wasn't very hot and would probably be fine for most kids but ours seem to have an aversion to even the slightest amount of heat.

erinbynight said...

Can I make this with my leftover hot dogs?

laxmi said...

looks good :) will try it

Timothy Johnson said...

Chef John,

This recipe is so delicious. But I wonder, what part does the ketchup play in the grand scheme of things? I'm definitely not complaining about...just curious about its role in the sauce. :)

Chelsea Jewesson said...

I wonder about those ginger pieces, do you just leave those in and not eat them or do you eat them regardless?

Chef John said...

for flavor, but you can eat if you want!

Olgalii. said...

I'm from vietnamese heritage and got to say - I love fake asian food. I cook it much more often than real asian food. Just cooked this (with freshly pan-fried chicken breast) and it's really, really delicious - better than most of the stuff you get at asian takeaways here in germany. Didn't have any fresh chilies and doubled the sauce, since my boyfriend LOVES a lot of sauce, and I bet it will be even better tomorrow for lunch (since I always cook our lunches to take with us, on evenings we have the german "Abendbrot" - which is bread. So I'll just then get to eat this delicious stuff... :'(