Cashew Chicken

After the long delay, I thought I would post my new favorite recipes in honor of the many “new” things in my life.  One of the many new things the husband and I got for our wedding was a “Quick and easy Chinese” cookbook from Crate and Barrel.  It turned out to be fantastic!

The husband loves Chinese food, but at times, it is difficult to find the good stuff.  I decided that I might as well try making some at home.  Turns out, it is actually quite easy (and better for you than take out, I’m sure).  If you are feeling intimidated about cooking Chinese food, this is a good introduction.

There is one specific ingredient in this dish that is difficult to find if you can’t find in a normal grocery store.  It is called Shaoxing cooking wine.  You can easily find it in an Asian grocery store like I did, but if you don’t have one of those near you, you can substitute dry sherry or white wine.  It isn’t quite the same, but it is pretty close.

When they say quick and easy, they really mean quick, so make sure you have all your vegetables prepped when you start cooking.  I made some slight adjustments so it isn’t the exact recipe, but slightly more flavorful.

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

red pepper flakes to taste

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 bell pepper chopped

3/4 lb boneless chicken cubed

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

3 – 4 scallions chopped

3/4 cup dry roasted cashews

Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Whisk to make a slurry.  Add in Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, brown sugar and salt.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan.  Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flake.  Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add chicken to the pan to sear.  Cook chicken until nearly cooked through, then add celery and bell pepper.  Cook until celery is bright green and peppers begin to soften.  Add scallions and cook for 1 minute.

Add sauce that has been set aside and toss.  Add cashews.  Serve over rice.

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Vegetable Fried Rice

Wow!  This dish is already famous and I haven’t even posted it yet.  A little while ago, I posted a picture of my vegetable fried rice and almost immediately people started asking me for the recipe.  Well everyone, the wait is over.  Here it is!

As I have previously discussed, I love Asian food.  I was craving Chinese food the other night, so I decided to take a stab at making fried rice.  Now, I would like to preface this post by saying I have never made fried rice before.  I am somewhat intimidated by Indian and Chinese food.  I keep thinking someone’s grandmother would be insulted by my creation.  But, I decided to try it anyway.

I looked all over the internet for recipes.  I watched videos of men cracking eggs into pans.  I scoured pictures of shimmering bowls full of beautiful combinations.  But in the end, I decided to just make a simple, home-grown version of fried rice.  I know this is bold.  But I didn’t I didn’t stray far from the basic combination of rice, vegetables, and egg.

Just to make the process clear, I took step-by-step photographs.  And I have a couple of tricks of the trade.  Firstly, I noticed that most people advise using leftover rice.  I would agree with this, but only if its sticky, already somewhat moist.  I used brown rice that had gotten nice and sticky while cooking and it worked well.  Secondly, the key to making good fried rice is all in the timing.  I tried to give the approximate times for everything.  However, it is important to note that the times will not help if the food is not evenly chopped.  Plus, this recipe takes very little time to cook, so take care to properly prepare the ingredients ahead of time.

A Delectable Endeavors Original:

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 scallions, sliced lengthwise and chopped

2 Tbls of oil

2 1/2 cups cooked rice

2 Tbls of soy sauce

2 tsp garlic salt

Like I said, make sure to prepare all your veggies ahead of time.  See all the nicely chopped vegetables?  They are evenly cut so each piece is approximately the same size.  This way they all cook evenly.

Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high.  Start by cooking the carrots.

Take about 3 minutes to cook the carrots.  Or, until they are slightly darker.  However, make sure they are not fully cooked.  They will be in the pan a bit longer.  Add onions.

Cook onions until they are begin to turn transucelnt.  This should only take a couple of minutes.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Crack an egg into the pan.  Use a spatula to vigorously break up egg into small pieces while it cooks.  Only spend about a minute or two doing this, then add scallions.  Cook scallions in mixture for a minute, then add rice.

Mmmm now its starting to look like fried rice.  Cook this mixture for a minute while breaking up rice and evenly distributing the ingredients.  Then add soy sauce.

You can add this to taste, adding as much as you would like.  I added about 2 Tablespoons.  Mix this in, then add garlic salt.

Mix up this delicious mixture while you salivate.  It is ready to serve!  As you can tell, this is a very basic, simple version.  But, I think it tastes fairly authentic.

Obviously, this makes a LOT of rice.  It would easily feed 4 people plus.  But leftovers are delicious!  You can make some as a side for dinner and save the leftovers for a delicious lunch the next day.  At least thats what I did.  🙂

Ginger Chicken

I really love Chinese food. My boyfriend likes it even more.  Unfortunately, when we moved to our new apartment we realized we chose the one neighborhood with no Chinese food.  Its a tragedy, really.  Of course, we couldn’t just go without Chinese food, so I learned to make some on my own.

Not only that, but Chinese food is comforting.  Its warm, its spicy, and it tingles my taste buds, especially when ginger is involved.  Right now, I could use all the comfort I can get. I am currently waiting to hear about my internship applications and going slightly batty in the process. My friend (who follows this blog) suggested I cook to pass the time. 🙂  So this one is for you, Kristin.

This recipe is delightfully appealing and surprisingly simple. I was intimidated to make my own ethnic food at first.  After all, why mess with a good thing? But after some trial and error, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good combination here.  I used leeks because its what I had around the house, but you could always use green onion or just regular onion.

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breast, cubed

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Tablespoon of butter

2 carrots, peeled

1 medium leek, washed

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your taste)

1/4 cup grated ginger

3/8 cup of soy sauce (or 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons)

1 Tablespoon of sugar

1 cup of water

1 Tablespoon of sesame seed oil

2 teaspoons of lime juice

salt and pepper to tase

Begin by making sauce.  Heat sesame seed oil in a saucepan.  Add garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper.  Heat until fragrant.  This will take only a minute.  Add soy sauce, water, sugar, and lime juice.  Let simmer.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan.  Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in pan until nearly cooked through.  This will only take a few minutes.  Remove from heat and add to sauce and turn heat down to medium-low.

While chicken is cooking slice leek crosswise,the slice lengthwise.  Chop carrots into evenly-sized pieces so they cook at the same rate.  Heat last Tablespoon of oil in a hot pan.  Add carrots.  Continue to season vegetables with salt and pepper while cooking.  Once partially cooked (this will only take a couple of minutes), add butter and melt.  Then, immediately add leeks. Cook until transluscent.  Remove vegetables from heat and add to sauce.

Let mixture meld in the sauce for at least 10 minutes.  Serve over brown rice. You will never order Chinese again!