Growing, up there was this one little local Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood. I think it was called Chan’s Tea House. But it was the only one nearby, and sometimes my girlfriends and I would skip school and treat ourselves to a nice lunch there.
Cashew Chicken was always my meal of choice there. It hit all the flavor notes I craved – sweet, tangy, salty, and a tad bit spicy. The crunch of the roasted cashews were my favorite part, though. But since then Cashew Chicken has been a lifelong comfort food of mine. To this day, anytime I have it, it instantly reminds me of skipping school with my friend’s to cozy up for some girl talk at Chan’s Tea House.
These days, there are tons more local Chinese food restaurants, and I now live far away from my childhood hometown in a city that’s flooded with an endless parade of delicious food options from all cultures and cuisines. Truly, a foodie’s paradise.
But I still crave that comforting cashew chicken. To avoid indulging in a calorie overload at a restaurant, I’ve learned to make my own cashew chicken at home. It’s really quite easy, and the flavors are so wonderfully fresh! It’s also a lot lighter than the restaurant version, and not so heavy with sauce.
To start with, I used chicken breast in this recipe, in order to keep the Points low. Most cashew chicken recipes will use chicken thighs, and I can’t blame them. The dark meat of the thighs is very tender and succulent, and absolutely worth an extra Point or two, if you have the Points to spare.
If not, no worries! My version using chicken breast is a fabulous runner up.
The chicken breast is coated with just a dusting of cornstarch (you can also use arrowroot starch or tapioca starch if you can’t have cornstarch). This gives it a crisp coating and helps to thicken the sauce.
Since the chicken is cut into small pieces, it’s easy and fast to cook in a skillet. In order to keep the amount of oil down, I just added a little water (a couple of tablespoons) and a lid to the chicken to keep it from sticking. I also stirred it frequently.
If you like your sauce to be a little spicier, add some more red pepper flakes, or omit them entirely if you like it mild. But spicy or not, you’ll fall in love with this tasty and easy cashew chicken recipe. Serve it with some steamed brown rice, or my Japanese Cucumber Salad for a delicious, complete, and beautiful meal.
WANT MORE CHINESE FOOD RECIPES? TRY THESE!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs boneless (skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 red bell peppers (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 cup snap peas
- 1/2 cup carrots (shredded)
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 bunch green onions (chopped)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (gluten free, if needed)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger (grated)
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Toss the chicken in the cornstarch.
- Cook the chicken in the skillet for 5 – 8 minutes, or until nearly cooked through. (Add a little water to the pan if needed to keep the chicken from sticking while cooking it).
- While the chicken is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add the vegetables and cashews to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the sauce to the pan and reduce to medium low.
- Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
- Remove from the heat and garnish with the green onions before serving.