Last week we took a trip via a dish with a Mexican flair, so why not put another stamp in your culinary passport with an excursion to the Orient?
This week's recipe for cashew chicken, based on a recipe given to me by my neighbor Joyce Van Ells, combines supermarket convenience products to make a quick, delicious chicken stir-fry. Sliced, boneless chicken strips are marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar and a bit of sesame oil. They're given a quick saute with chopped green onion, minced garlic and powdered ginger, then combined with microwaved broccoli, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, dry sherry and a healthy dose of cashews.
Not only does the supermarket take the work out of slicing the chicken into strips with the help of stir-fry ready chicken, but the produce department also comes to the aid of busy cooks. Washed and cut broccoli florettes are available in open bins for you to measure out yourself, or in microwave-ready plastic bags.
When preparing today's recipe, I chose a 16-ounce bag of Mann's Broccoli Wokly Broccoli Florettes. While I stir-fried the chicken, I punched steam holes in the bag of broccoli and popped it in the microwave to heat.
Being able to do two tasks at once saves time over the skillet and allows me to keep the chicken tender and not overcooked. Usually, when stir-frying, you either overcook the chicken or need to remove it from the skillet or wok while the broccoli cooks.
The recipe also calls for 1 cup of canned chicken broth, but if you don't have another use for the remaining half a can, go ahead and substitute water and add a little extra soy sauce to the mixture. The final addition of sherry also can be deleted for those who prefer not to cook with alcohol or who don't have sherry in the house.
My children love the combination of chicken and cashews, but they aren't big broccoli fans. Feel free to use fresh green beans instead. Wash a pound of fresh green beans, remove the tips and tails, then slice them on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Cook them in the microwave in a covered container with a tablespoon of water for about three minutes before adding them to the stir-fry.
Before preparing your cashew chicken, put some water on to cook white rice. Serve your cashew chicken over the rice for a satisfying meal.
1 cup canned, low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped green onion
16 ounces broccoli florets
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 tablespoon sherry, optional
Cooked white rice
Combine the chicken broth and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine sliced chicken, soy sauce and brown sugar. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and green onions and stir-fry until chicken is no longer pink.
Meanwhile, microwave broccoli florets in covered container for 3 minutes, until crisp/tender.
When chicken is cooked through, add the cooked broccoli, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then add the chicken broth mixture and sherry. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in the cashews. Serve with rice.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30913. Or send e-mail to email@example.com.