Ben Laurie blathering

Chicken and Cashew

When I fancy a stirfry my thoughts often turn to this dish. I first learnt to cook this from Ken Hom’s excellent book, but it doesn’t bear much resemblance to his version any more. Quick and easy and delicious cold.

Chicken breast
Dark soy
Spring onions
Sesame oil

Chop the chicken. I believe the Chinese like things to all be roughly the same size, so in theory you should try and chop into cashew-nut-sized pieces. However, I typically do thin slices across the breast (by the way, if you want really thin slices then leaving frozen meat not quite defrosted is a great way to achieve it – no need to complete the defrosting after, it’ll happen in the wok). Marinade the chicken slices for 30 mins at least in diced ginger, dark soy and spring onion, finely chopped. Around here we like to use a lot of ginger but it is up to you.

While its marinading, stirfry the cashews in a little oil over a very gentle heat – burnt nut is very bitter, so keep the heat low and stir continuously – until lightly browned. Sometimes I use roasted and salted cashews, in which case there is no need to fry them, but you do need to rinse the salt off.

Then a little more oil (I use groundnut, by the way) on a high heat. Once it is smoking, throw in the chicken, which should’ve absorbed most of the marinade by now. Stirfry quickly and not for too long; the secret to really tender chicken is to stop as soon as all the meat is coloured – the pieces should be small enough that they’ll be cooked through by the time you’re done. Add the cashews and a little more dark soy and bring up to heat. Then take it off the heat, add yet more finely chopped spring onion and a generous dash of sesame oil give a final stir, and serve with plain boiled rice and a vegetable of your choice. Or a salad, even.

Nom nom. I think there might be some of this calling me from the fridge right now.


  1. Ken Hom! Now there’s a blast from the past… The first meal I ever cooked for Karen, in the kitchen in Leamington I shared with three other Warwick Uni students, was stir fried pork with spring onions from his original BBC book… Great book – still have it on the shelf in our kitchen here, 22 years later!

    Comment by Pat Patterson — 14 Nov 2010 @ 4:57

  2. My mother had the same Ken Hom book, and this was my favourite of all the dishes she did from that book. Happy memories!

    Comment by Etienne Pollard — 14 Nov 2010 @ 23:35

  3. Made a lot last night – not much left!

    Maybe a dash of rice wine, sherry or port in the marinade might be nice.

    Comment by Ben's dad — 21 Nov 2010 @ 8:19

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