Simple Chinese Cooking – Cashew Chicken

During our recent tour of Portland we stopped by Powell’s Books. The number of books they have is crazy and their cookbook selection is to die for. They have books on every conceivable topic and trend. I managed to make it out without doing too much damage. I picked up a copy of Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. I saw a book review of it in the Washington Post and had been meaning to check it out.

I studied abroad in Hong Kong and did a lot of Chinese cooking when I first got out of college. After a while though I got distracted by an ever changing array of cooking fads and trends. Reading through the recipes in this book though reminded me of both my travels in China and the reasons I love Chinese cooking. Kwong’s recipes are based around core techniques and sets of ingredients, but all of the variations end having a lot of uniqueness.

Cashew chicken is the first recipe we tried, but I am definitely going to be trying some more!

Cashew Chicken

(This version is from the Post article)

Some tips: Have all the ingredients prepped before you start because the cooking goes quickly. The small amounts of visible fat in the chicken thighs will add flavor, so there’s no need to trim. Stir-frying the marinated chicken in two quick batches helps sear the meat and makes it easier to control the garlic’s subsequent turn in the wok.


For the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound 10 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 medium cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) roasted unsalted cashews
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup finely sliced (crosswise) scallions, white and tender green parts, for garnish


  1. Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
  2. When ready to cook, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the cucumber cut side down on a cutting board; trim off the ends and discard. Slice the remaining cucumber thinly on the diagonal and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a hot wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add half of the marinated chicken and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok, then add the nuts and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, making sure the garlic does not burn. Return all the chicken to the wok and increase the heat to high. Add the wine or sherry and stir-fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Add the salt and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until the chicken is lightly browned and just cooked through. Add the cucumber and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Divide the chicken and sauce among individual plates and sprinkle scallions over the top. Serve immediately.

6 thoughts on “Simple Chinese Cooking – Cashew Chicken

  1. forgot you got this… or was it on a different stop to powell’s? i didn’t get any cookbooks, only books about food. too hot here to cook this week.

    • I think I got it when we went there. We just tried another recipe from… it was great! I will post it.

      Luckily the weather is actually better here!

    • Thanks! Yea the cucumber add a really nice touch to the dish and make it taste a little more “fresh”.

  2. We love Asian cooking and this is a very tasty recipe that is simple to make. Absolutely agree that you need to have everything prepared before you start, its that quick.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *