Chinese-Style Stir-fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts

In recent weeks I’ve had two several-day long family visits. Nowadays on such occasions (unless it’s a special party or celebration), I no longer cook complicated meals or new  discoveries, but stick to well-tested recipes I know by heart. On the other hand I always choose the ingredients rarely enjoyed by my guests or the dishes they aren’t used to on a daily basis. This is not difficult since Asian cuisine, a staple in our house, is rarely or never eaten by our visiting friends and family. This Chinese-style stir fry, our regular no-fuss weekend lunch, is the best example of such a dish: quick, easy, crowd-pleasing, but with an exotic touch. It’s vaguely based on something we ate a long time ago in a department store’s food court and my husband asked if I could copy. My version contains less potato flour, less fat and the addition I’m very proud of is black Chinkiang vinegar and Xiaoxing wine. I fell in love with these while discovering Sichuan cuisine and always add them to what I consider “Chinese-style” dishes of my own invention. I think they add quite an unusual exotic touch. Last but not least, when guests’ palates allow it, I also add some green chilli peppers for a nice fresh fiery kick. (Of course I always do it when we have it alone!).

TIPS: If you don’t have Xiaoxing wine, add sake (not the sweet mirin) and if you don’t find Chinkiang vinegar, use malt vinegar instead (I find both ingredients even in a Vietnamese shop in my city, so make sure you ask for them in any nearby Asian grocery shop).

You can replace the potato starch with rice flour or cornstarch, but the texture will be a bit different and you should add more cornstarch (I don’t know about the rice flour amounts though).

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

1 tablespoon oil

15-20 cashew nuts

2 small chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces or strips

1 big onion or four big shallots

1 big bell pepper (or two medium long peppers)

a handful of mung bean sprouts (you can add other vegetables instead, for example bok choy)

(fresh green chillies, cut into slices; if using jalapeños, I add one per person)

Chicken marinade:

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Xiaoxing wine or dry sake


2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark Chinese soy sauce

1 tablespoon Xiaoxing wine or dry sake

1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar (or 1 tablespoon malt vinegar)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 flat tablespoon potato flour

1 garlic clove, crushed

200 ml chicken stock or water

Combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients.

Prepare the sauce combining all the ingredients in a bowl.

Cut the onion lengthwise and then slice it.

Wash the sprouts (it’s very important!).

Heat a pan and toast the cashew nuts until slightly browned (don’t burn them).

Remove the cashew nuts from the pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and when it’s hot, add the chicken pieces.

Stir-fry at medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Add the onion and the pepper (and chilli pepper) and continue stir-frying.

When the chicken is almost done, add the cashew nuts, the sprouts and the sauce.

Stir-fry until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice.

12 Replies to “Chinese-Style Stir-fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts”

  1. Ah, I adore this kind of meal. This past summer I made a cashew chicken recipe that was really involved (time consuming steps, etc) but mediocre taste in the end and I’ve been looking forward to finding another — your sauce sounds right up our alley and since discovering a nearby Asian shop, its made accessing vinegars and wines etc. so much easier – yay! Your chicken looks so succulent Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! I’m glad you like the idea! This is so easy and not really genuine, so I hesitated before posting it but we really love it. You should try the black vinegar and the wine because they really change the flavours (I know it sounds silly, but for me they make the dish taste more “Chinese”… at least compared to what we are served here in restaurants!). I bought them in order to cook Sichuan cuisine and was worried they wouldn’t be very useful otherwise but now I add them to any “Chinese-style” dish I prepare.

  2. Delicious looking meal. I have both the black vinegar and the wine in my fridge … even a bottle of unopened sake so it’s tempting to make this. No cashew nuts though since when I DO buy them, like with roasted peanuts, I always snack on them and then there are never any left for adding to dishes. I was supposed to go grocery shopping this morning so we’ll see what the budget allows for. Getting inspiration with a new dish is always fun. I like your serving bowl as well. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments! The bowl was brought from Japan last year, I’m glad you like it too! It’s fantastic that you have both the vinegar and the wine! I’m sure you can replace the cashew nuts with peanuts. Have a nice shopping trip!

  3. We don’t have very good Chinese restaurants here, but there is one that has a great Cashew Chicken dish so I order it every time we go. Yours looks better. 🙂 Lots of big chunks of vegetables and the sauce sounds wonderful. Have never used potato starch so I’m curious as to the difference between it and cornstarch which is what I usually use. A great recipe Sissi and one I hope to try soon.

    1. Thank you so much, MJ! Potato starch is stronger. I would use twice as much cornstarch. Otherwise there isn’t any difference in savoury dishes at least.

  4. The flavours are incredible in this dish, it’s also wonderful that it comes together so quickly. I have all of the ingredients on hand too, looks like you’ve solved my dinner dilemma for tonight!

    1. Thank you so much, Mimi! (Sorry for such a late answer; somehow your comment was in the spam folder…). I use peanut and grape seed oil too because both can handle high temperatures.

    1. Thanks a lot, Karen. It’s such an easy dish and the Chinese vinegar and wine are quite popular in “Asian” shops, so I guess many people can make it.

Comments are closed.