Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Five spice stir fried chicken with cashews: A riff on a Nigel Slater recipe

It started as a Nigel Slater recipe for stir fried chicken with cashews and broccoli. But I hadn't any broccoli. I did have an enormous jar of unsalted cashews that my parents left behind when they came to visit though, so I decided to make the dish anyway.

Along the way, I added and tweaked quite a number of things and I'm afraid that it no longer resembles Slater's original recipe. But the important thing is, it tasted very good. Good enough for Mr Grey to express a hope that I would remember what I'd done.

Very roughly, here it is.

You need about 400g of chicken - the chicken I had today was taken from 3 rather large chicken drumsticks. Marinate with a tablespoon of light soy sauce, a minced garlic clove and a tablespoon of Chinese five spice powder.*

Chop a thumb size piece of ginger into smallish pieces. Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a wok or a deep pan, then add the ginger. Stir fry the ginger until golden brown and fragrant, then add the chicken. Stir fry the chicken for about 2 minutes then add:

1 more tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water
1/4 cup of chicken stock
A bit of salt - 1/4 tsp perhaps?
1/3 cup of cashews

Stir fry for a bit longer then add the cashews. Finally add a little extra water and cover with a lid. Allow the chicken to cook for about 5 more minutes. During this time, chop a spring onion into 2 inch lengths. When the chicken is nearly done, stir through the spring onion until wilted.

Serve with steamed rice.

*Slater's original didn't have soy sauce. In fact his original recipe did not call for any seasoning at all  but the cashews he used were salted ones. But as I said earlier, all I had were unsalted cashews. The above is the result of just adding whatever I happened to have in my kitchen.

* In general though, I find that ginger goes well with 5 spice and spring onions go well with ginger so there you have it. As for the seasoning, it's hard to go wrong with the classic chinese trifecta of soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine. The corn starch was just to thicken the sauce - it may be omitted if one prefers the gravy to be thinner. The chicken stock was habit. I have, at all times, a bag of frozen cubes of home made chicken stock in my freezer. I find that it adds an umami-ness and depth of flavour to sauces and gravies.