Browsing Thai recipes lately I found cashew chicken and thought this could be an interesting thing to try. Comparing several recipes found all over the net, I realized that all of them were unanimous on the use of hoisin sauce. This is an ingredient I have never used before, and I was afraid I would not get to buy it here, so I even looked for recipes to home-make it. Then, while shopping for the other ingredients, I discovered that hoisin sauce was among the things that I can get at my local supermarket, so I was happy that I could spare myself that further level of experimenting and bought a jar of it, ready to use.
Since I really like to pair up chicken stir-fries with noodles, I decided that despite most recipes I found did not include any noodles but were basically chicken dishes, I would instead make a noodle dish out of my cashew chicken. I just love one pot dishes. This may not be super authentic, but it tasted great. I chose to use glass noodles (Chinese vermicelli), as they are very versatile and neutral in taste, and take up a nice colour from the chicken sauce. The main ingredients in this dish, aside from the chicken, are scallions, cashews, garlic and hoisin sauce.
Chicken cashew noodles (serves 3):
- 200 g glass noodles
- 400 g chicken breast
- 80 g cashew nuts
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 6 scallions
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 9 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 5 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Cut up the chicken and place it in a bowl. Season with 3 tbsp of soy sauce, and let it marinate for about half an hour. If unroasted cashews are being used, preheat oven to 150°C, set cashew nuts in a pan and toast for about 5-7 minutes, then set aside. In the meantime, soak glass noodles in boiling water and cook them up, then strain and set aside. Heat up the coconut oil in a wok or large frying pan, mince the garlic and lightly fry it in the hot oil. Add the marinated chicken and cook it for a couple of minutes. Cut the scallions in 1 cm long pieces and separate thick from leafy parts. Add the thicker pieces of the scallions to the chicken and stir fry. When the chicken is cooked through, add the rice vinegar and cook until evaporated. Then add the hoisin sauce, remaining soy sauce and water. At this point, add leafy parts of scallions and cashews and stir in. This mixture looks beautifully as it is already.
Lastly, still keeping the wok on medium heat, add the noodles and mix thoroughly, so that the sauce will get all over the noodles and everything will be nicely mixed. Remove from heat, add the sesame oil, stir in and serve immediately.
I could not imagine this dish without the sweet and spicy taste of hoisin sauce. I had made Asian dishes before, even tried Pad Thai, and could never quite get that peculiar taste that I experience at Asian restaurants. I think I know now that the secret ingredient was the hoisin sauce, the perfect foundation to the sauce for this kind of noodle dishes. Now that I’m familiar with it – and I know where I can buy it – I will definitely use it again!