24 July, 2017
Happy Chopsticks With Crocked Cashew Chicken
Maneuvering a pair of chopsticks is a challenge I took and learned how to manage quite well. Sadly, not so for hubby. If he wants to get food close to his mouth, he uses a fork. We have several pairs of chopsticks in wood, plastic, and stainless steel from visits to South Korea over the years. It was fun choosing the plastic pair as about every outdoor market or shop had many choices and patterns. The plastic and stainless steal chopsticks are harder for me to use as they have a smooth and polished finish and the food doesn’t “stick” as well as the wooden pair. A few facts from Wikipedia:
“Chopsticks are shaped pairs of equal-length sticks that have been used as the traditional ancient kitchen and eating utensils in virtually all of East Asia for over 6000 years. First used by the Chinese, chopsticks later spread to other locations…..Chopsticks are smoothed and frequently tapered and are commonly made of bamboo, plastic, wood, or stainless steel. They are less commonly made from titanium, gold, silver, porcelain, jade, or ivory. Chopsticks are held in the dominant hand, between the thumb and fingers, and used to pick up pieces of food.”
More information on the history of chopsticks from the Smithsonian:
“The earliest versions were probably twigs used to retrieve food from cooking pots. When resources became scarce, around 400 BC, crafty chefs figured out how to conserve fuel by cutting food into small pieces so it would cook more quickly. This new method of cooking made it unnecessary to have knives at the dinner table…”
Preparing Asian food is not where my cooking talents lie. Thank goodness for places like P.F. Changs when we need a “fix.” When I saw this recipe for cashew chicken I almost swiped it away before I saw “crockpot” method. Well now that intrigued me. I’d never heard of making Cashew Chicken in a crockpot before. How hard could that be? Let’s find out.
To my surprise, this recipe is almost too good to be true. It is basically effortless to put together and once all the ingredients are in the crockpot you can forget it for a couple of hours. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and served over rice and with vegetables, it makes a great meal. Did I say it was easy?
Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and shake in a bag with cornstarch and pepper to coat.
Mix sauce ingredients with cashews. Tip: the cashews will soften during cooking so if you want your cashews crunchy, add them at the end.
Put chicken and sauce in the crockpot, set the time and temperature and walk away.
Crockpot kind of caramelizes the chicken and almonds, making a rich, thick sauce.
No chopsticks needed! Hubby is happier digging into this meal with a fork. Served over fried rice with sugar snap peas, yum!
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 pieces), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I was out of fresh ginger so used powdered spice)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I did not use)
- 1 cup cashews (I saved some out to put on top of meal when serving)
- Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken and shake to coat with cornstarch mixture.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side.
- Place chicken in slow cooker.
- Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. (cashews will be softer if added during the cooking process, if you want more of a crunch, add them right before serving).
- Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
- Serve over rice.