This isn’t cashew chicken from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant. This is spicy crispy cashew chicken nuggets. The chunks of boneless chicken meat are floured and fried until a crispy crust forms, tossed in a thick and sticky spicy sauce, and garnished with bell peppers and crushed roasted cashew nuts.
And what’s the thick and sticky spicy sauce made of? A mixture Sriracha (that delightful chili sauce from Thailand), gochujang (the ultra fiery chili paste from Korea), soy sauce, honey, rice wine, sesame seed oil and grated ginger — all of which are available in Asian groceries and Asian section of better supermarkets.
Why use starch for flouring the chicken? Starch makes a crispier crust than wheat flour. And the crispiness is retained even after the fried chicken nuggets are tossed in the sticky spicy sauce.
What is it like eating these spicy crispy cashew chicken nuggets? First, the sticky sauce touches your mouth. Then, as you take your first bite, you hear the crunch of the crispy crust. The heat spreads inside your mouth and all the sensations — stickiness, crispiness and heat — mingle merrily for your utmost pleasure.
- 2 chicken breast fillets
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons gochujang
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice wine (sake, mirin or Shaoxing)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 1/3 to 1/2 cups tapioca starch (or corn or potato)
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted cashew nuts
Wipe the chicken breast fillets with paper towels. Cut into one-and-a-half-inch cubes. Toss with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
Dice the bell pepper after discarding the seeds.
In a bowl, mix together the Sriracha, gochujang, soy sauce, honey, rice wine, ginger and sesame seed oil.
Start heating enough cooking oil in a wok or frying pan to reach a depth of two inches.
Place the chicken cubes in a resealable bag. Add the starch. Shake well.
When the oil is hot, fry the chicken cubes (in batches if your frying pan is rather small) over high heat until lightly browned and crisp. Scoop out and drain.
Pour off the cooking oil leaving only about a tablespoonful.
Stir fry the diced bell pepper with a little salt and pepper for about a minute. Scoop out and set aside.
Pour the prepared sauce into the pan. Cook over medium heat for about a minute. Turn off the heat.
Add the cooked chicken to the sauce. Toss to coat every pice. Add the diced bell pepper and half of the cashew nuts. Toss a few more times.
Transfer the chicken and peppers to a serving plate or bowl. Sprinkle the remaining cashew nuts over the chicken.
Serve the spicy crispy cashew chicken nuggets at once.