"There's no need to go out for or pick up Chinese food that is loaded with salt and fat when you can make this quick and easy Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus right at home. It is both low-fat and low-calorie and done in less time than it takes to call in an order. Much less pick it up."
Making Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus - the Inspiration
It was given to me by Mr. Yan himself in 1999.
Martin Yan is a very interesting man, funny, but not in a haha way; gracious and kind. "Feast" contains some very good Chinese recipes, adapted to American tastes.
No, you won't find odd things in this book, it's all-American Chinese Food.
As Martin Yan states in Feast "anything you do over and over again, you will learn to do well." Practice makes perfect scenarios. And it's true. Martin can cut up a chicken in 18 seconds.
That not only takes practice, but it also involves a little trick. He totally has all the joints of the chicken broken down before he even starts with his cleaver.
And he wields a big cleaver.
- Making Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus - the Inspiration
- Why you should make your own Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry at home
- Ingredients and Substitutions
- LindySez Top Tips
- Food Safety 101
- The Best way to Toast Nuts
- Wine Recommendation
- Quick and Easy Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus
Why you should make your own Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry at home
I find it difficult to find really good Chinese food where I live.
It's decent, but after you've sat down, and each of you has ordered your main, and the rice, the bill generally comes to $50 or more.
I just don't find the food worth that much money. I mean it's mostly soy sauce, chicken stock, water, and cornstarch, with more veggies than meat. And more sauce than veggies.
So why not make it yourself? Add the amount of meat you want, the veggies you want, and the sauce you want?
"Once everything is prepped and ready, this meal is on the table in about 10 minutes"
Fresh and hot.
Ingredients and Substitutions
This recipe for Quick and Easy Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus comes together in 3 easy steps; the chicken marinade, the stir-fry, and the final spicy saucy sauce. I'll list the ingredients for each step, and then we will put it all together.
The Chicken Marinade
- Soy sauce (I ALWAYS use low-sodium)
- Dry Sherry, Chinese Rice Wine, or White Vermouth
- Freshly minced ginger and garlic
- Red pepper flakes (optional) but adds spiciness
The Stir Fry
- Boneless, skinless, chicken. Use white meat or thighs
- Yellow onion
- Bell Pepper (I use red for color, you can use any color)
- Asparagus, or another seasonal vegetable, such as green beans, pea pods, or snap peas
- Toasted whole cashews or peanuts
- Chicken stock
- Low-Sodium soy sauce
- Chili garlic sauce (optional, but again, adds spicy)
- Sesame seed oil, sugar
LindySez Top Tips
- Mise en Place - A French term meaning to have everything cut, mixed, and ready before you start cooking. Once you start cooking you won't have time to go back to mix sauces. So have everything cut and mixed.
- Blanch the asparagus, green beans, and/or pea pods in boiling salted water then plunge them into an ice bath so they retain their bright green color. Asparagus 30 seconds to a minute, green beans 5 - 7 minutes or until your tender, and pea pods about 3 minutes.
Using a wok or deep high-sided pan, add the oil, and once hot add the chicken along with the marinade. Cook 2 to 3 minutes ( a little longer if using dark thigh meat) then add the vegetables minus the asparagus tops.
Stir-fry quickly for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add the saucy sauce to the pan and stir-fry quickly to coat all the chicken and veggies. Cook for 1 minute, or until hot.
Once the sauce is hot, pour in the slurry mix of cornstarch and water. Add slowly until you have the thickness of sauce you want. Then gently add the asparagus tips.
Yes. Spicy Cashew Chicken with Asparagus can easily be made either spicier or milder depending on how much red pepper flakes and/or chili garlic sauce you use. You could also add some sliced jalapeno to the veggie mix for additional heat.
While I always think that fresh is best, if you and your family are not in the habit of using fresh, then I think you can safely use the dried alternatives. I've tested with these dried ingredients and find that they do not give the depth of flavor fresh does, but they do work.
Either will work. I prefer boneless skinless breast for this quick stir-fry as it cooks quickly. Thigh meat takes a bit longer, so allow some additional time for sauteeing prior to adding the vegetables. Why
The answer to this question is two-fold. First of all, it's called "velveting" the chicken. Velveting is the secret that gives the chicken a silky texture, with retained moisture and flavor from the marinade. It also protects the chicken from the hot wok, yielding juicy chicken.
Most recipes I see for stir-fries have you add ginger and garlic to the hot oil, and then add the chicken. It's all done within 10 seconds and I've found if your pan is too hot, 10 seconds can quickly burn the ginger and garlic. This is not good. So, I add these ingredients right to my marinade.10 minutes of sitting in the ginger and garlic can only enhance the flavor of the chicken, right?
Food Safety 101
While you're prepping your veggies and cutting up the chicken (different cutting boards please, let's not cross-contaminate) start your rice and the whole dinner will be ready at the same time. Or you could serve this on soba or rice noodles. If you are feeling like going for a full-on Chinese meal, try it with some of my Easy Pork Fried Rice. (This will take a little planning but is a great idea if you have some leftover rice.)
The Best way to Toast Nuts
Being Cashew Chicken, cashews are important.
If you don't have cashews that are already toasted, put them into a 325° oven and roast them for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
In my opinion, trying to roast nuts in a hot pan on top of the stove is just nuts. Too much coddling is needed to keep them from burning before you get them nicely toasted. The slow even heat of an oven is perfect. Unsalted cashews are the best for this dish, but if you only have salted ones, just take the soy sauce back a notch. And when it comes to soy sauce, what do you know? LOW-SODIUM is the ONLY way to go. Full sodium has way too much sodium for a healthy diet.
OK...let's get cooking.
Spicy and/or sweet flavors in food tend to work best with sweeter wines. Off-dry German Riesling or perfumy California Viognier is always a delicious choice; it has both the sweetness to quell the heat and the acidity to match tangy flavors.
Quick and Easy Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus
- To Marinate the Chicken
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry sherry, Chinese rice wine, or white vermouth
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon ground
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic or ¼ teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) for the spicy part
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- The Stir-Fry
- pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil I like grapeseed oil
- 1 small yellow onion cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 small red bell pepper seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 zucchini cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ pound asparagus trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, blanched, tops set aside
- Saucy Sauce
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce optional
- ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- A slurry of 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
- ½ cup roasted whole cashews or peanuts
- If your nuts are not toasted: Heat the oven to 325ºF. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and put into the oven. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until toasted, keeping an eye on them to make sure they do not burn. Remove from oven. Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, add the chicken and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the veggies.
- Mix the chicken stock, soy sauce, garlic chili sauce (if using), sesame seed oil, and sugar together in a bowl. Set-aside.
- Place a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides; add the chicken and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper zucchini, asparagus bottoms, and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the saucy sauce and cook for 1 minute longer, add the asparagus tops along with the slurry to thicken it all up. Stir in the cashews and serve.