Every now and then it is a bare necessity to have a bowl of comforting steamed white rice with a tasty Chinese stir-fried dish. This kind of food reminds me of strolls down memory lane in Hong Kong, where I would be tempted by every single local street restaurant where you can just go in and share a table with anyone. Whether it’s a curry, fried pork with black beans and bitter cucumbers or char sui (roast barbecued pork), it was always a satisfying meal.
At home, I get regular requests for this chicken and cashew nut stir-fry, especially from my hungry boys. It’s quick, tasty, easy and an all-time favourite. There’s a little French touch to this dish – it’s actually something I never ate in Hong Kong, but always in Chinese restaurants in Paris – it’s a typical westernized meal that somehow turned out to be timeless. I love cooking this dish with the background nutty scent of steaming white rice – it makes me feel like I am exactly where I belong.
My father taught me a great trick to make my stir-fries look ‘professional’ – he calls it the ‘glossing‘. Dilute 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 4 tbsp of lukewarm water, add this mixture to the stir-fry, on a high heat, right at the end. The sauce will thicken and give a perfect finishing gloss.
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
4-5 chicken breasts (cut in 2 cm/ 1/2 inch approx)
2 red paprikas (sliced in small squares)
2 cloves garlic (sliced finely)
1 large yellow onion (sliced coarsely)
150 g unsalted cashew nuts
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato concentrate paste
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3-4 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 pinch chilli powder or 1 crunched dried chilli (optional)
1 tbsp cornstarch (with 4 tbsp lukewarm water to dilute)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Cut and slice chicken, paprikas, onion and garlic, set aside. In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on a high heat and throw in the chicken until browned, set aside. Add a bit of oil and fry cashew nuts until golden (about 3-4 minutes), set aside. Add a bit of oil, fry onions for 3 minutes, then add paprikas and garlic and continue frying for 3-4 more minutes. Always on a high heat, add tomato concentrate, oyster sauce, sugar, chilli and soya sauce, then return chicken and cashew nuts to the pan, constantly stirring for 4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Add sesame oil, stir. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with a bit of lukewarm water, just enough to dilute, and add to the pan – stir well.
Serve with freshly steamed white rice.