Although Thai Cashew Chicken is not as hot as Chinese Cashew Chicken, what it lacks in spiciness, it makes up for in great flavor. Crispy golden cashews and chicken are tossed in a simple yet bold Thai stir-fry sauce with as much or as little fresh chilli as you like!
It’s a favorite in Thai cuisine that’s incredibly quick to make.
Thai Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry
Cashew stir-fry is a favorite across Asia and the Thai version is one of the best! Unlike the Chinese Cashew Chicken which is generous in sauce, the Thai version is a drier style of stir-fry where the flavor of the sauce is much more intense. So you don’t need either you want a ton of sauce to dip your rice in. There are lots of flavors coating the stir-fry ingredients that stain and flavor the rice when you stir it.
Honestly, look at this. No one would see this work of goodness and think, “Looks like there’s not enough flavor in there,”… Right?
What Goes Into Thai Cashew Chicken Stir Fry
Here’s what you need for this Thai Chicken Stir-Fry:
- Cashew nut – Nuts are actually the star ingredient in this stir-fry! They bring texture, flavor, and nutty richness to the party. They are best used raw so they are freshly grilled in the wok (or pan) for maximum flavor development. It only takes about 3 minutes. If you only have roasted cashews, that’s fine too. Just lightly grill them for about 90 seconds, they don’t need to be as fully cooked. unsalted cashew nut. Salted cashews will make the dish way too salty;
- Chicken – The thigh is best, for the juiciest and tastiest pieces of chicken. If you prefer to use brisket, consider tenderizing it in Chinese restaurant style to make it softer and juicier. If you’ve never done this before, this will blow your mind – it’s a simple but game-changing trick!
- Onion and garlic – Essential aromas. It’s hard to find a stir fry in my world that doesn’t start with these two!
- Green onion – For freshness and color;
- Chile – For a touch of spice. 100% optional;
- The sauce – Here is what you need:
- oyster sauce – This has a ton of umami and acts as a thickener for this Thai stir-fry sauce. You can use vegetarian oyster sauce if you prefer;
- Soya sauce – The most intensely flavored soy in the soy sauce family, and just a tiny amount packs a serious flavor punch. It also colors food a beautiful deep mahogany color;
- fish sauce – The fish sauce is used in Thai cooking like soy sauce is used in Chinese cooking, ie. as the primary seasoning. Although it can smell a little (ok, very!) funky right out of the bottle, when cooked it is completely transformed. It adds unparalleled complexity and depth of flavor to any dish. No fishy flavors at all in the end result!
How to make Thai Chicken Cashew Stir Fry
As with all stir-fries, once you start cooking, things move fast! The key when cooking stir-fries is to make sure all the ingredients are chopped and ready to mix, including the Thai stir-fry sauce. Also, cook the jasmine rice ahead of time – it takes longer to make than this stir-fry!!
- sauce – Mix the sauce in a small dish;
- Cashew nut – Start by cooking the cashews. If using raw cashews (which I recommend for best flavor), it will take about 3 minutes to cook over medium heat. They’ll go from a pale cream color to a deep golden brown, and they should be crunchy (yes, you’re going to have to try one to check! ). If you’re starting with cashews that are already roasted, then you only need to roast them for about 1 1/2 minutes just to warm them up and bring out the flavor (instead of cooking them);
- Remove the cashews from the wok/pan. Reserve the oil – we’ll use it to cook the stir-fry;
- Jumped up! – As with all stir-fries, we add the ingredients in the order of cooking. Start with garlic and onion, aromatics. Just blend them for 30 seconds to get them started and to flavor the oil. Then, dip the chicken in it.Once the chicken is almost cooked, add the white part of the scallions (i.e. the thickest part at the base of the stalk) along with the chili. We add the white part of the green onions before the softer green part because it takes longer to cook. Cook another minute and whatever is currently in the wok should be almost done.
- sauce – Next, the sauce. Pour in, then continue cooking for another 1 minute or until the sauce has reduced and everything in the wok turns a nice mahogany color; and
- Green onion and cashew nuts – And finally, mix in the green part of the green onions, plus the cashews. Give it a smack for about 20-30 seconds, which is all it takes for the green onion to wilt slightly.
And you are done! What was that, a grand total of 8 minutes? I told you it was fast!!