One of my best friends, who still lives in NYC, laughs when I come to visit her. She knows on my first night in town, dinner is always takeout from Pig Heaven and always the same thing, Cashew Chicken and Orange Beef. I once tried something else, can't remember what, but it wasn't the same. It is a fantastic combination, and I'm lucky my friend also agrees!
Miami, in spite of what some people may think, doesn't really have a great takeout or restaurant. Yes Mr. Chow has opened on the Beach, but who wants to go through all the hassle and pay such horrendous prices. That defeats the whole purpose of Chinese on a Sunday night. So, as I mentioned before, I have armed myself with a wok, and various cookbooks and tackled Chinese cuisine!
Martin Yan is one of my favorite authors. Not only are his dishes delicious and quick but he lays out each recipe in a very simple manner. Once you make one or two, you understand the mindset. With Chinese, it's all about preparation, for the actual cooking really takes no time at all. You chop the ingredients, make a sauce, stir fry separately, first meats, then vegetables, add the sauce, combine and you are done. There really is no reason to be intimidated by it and it is not as complicated or time consuming as you think. If you have a wonderful takeout near you, don't bother, but if you don't read on!
This popular dish, probably number one for Chinese take-out, is easily mastered at home. My preference is to use unsalted cashews. If your market doesn't stock them, reduce the soy sauce to compensate for the salt. I've made this recipe many, many times. Don't leave out or add anything...it's terrific!
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine OR dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup roasted cashews OR blanched almonds, toasted
Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Add chicken to marinade and stir to coat. Let stand 10 minutes.
Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add vegetable oil, swirling to coat sides. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Add onion, red pepper, zucchini and broth. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Mix well. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens. Add nuts and mix well. Makes 4 servings.
Note: His recipe gives you the option to use almonds...I wouldn't. Maybe later on when you want a variation ; but the combination of these ingredients with the cashews is too perfect for words! I also prefer the wine to the sherry for a more authentic taste. It is found in the Chinese section of most supermarkets.