I adore Chinese food, adore maybe too milder word. If I could only ever eat one type of food ever again, it would be Chinese food. I love cooking it almost as much as I love eating it, the way you can change the beautiful flavours by adjusting the spices and sauces, even the way the food is cooked.
The favourite Chinese dish that I cook is my crispy hoi sin chicken with cashew nuts. It has all the warming spice taste along side the aromatic flavours.
For the crispy chicken
- 600g chicken breast (cut into medium to small chunks or diced)
- 1/2 mug of cornflour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic granules
- 1 mug of ground nut oil (or sunflower oil works just fine too)
For the hoi sin sauce
- 100g unsalted cashew nuts
- 200g hoi sin sauce
- 200ml water
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 heaped tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon chopped or minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (add less or more to taste)
In a sauce pan, add the hoi sin sauce, soy sauce, water, sugar, chopped or minced garlic, rice vinegar and shaoxing rice wine, place on the heat and gently simmer. Once it has started to simmer, bring the heat up and reduce the sauce down until it is a glossy sauce that is about 2/3rds of the quantity it was to begin with. Once the sauce has reduced, take off the heat and put to one side.
Next, in a small frying pan or shallow sauce pan add the cashew nuts and place on the heat.
On a gentle heat, slowly toss the cashew nuts in the pan to toast them, once toasted, remove from the heat.
Now for the chicken. In a bowl, mix the cornflour, five spice powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder (or granules) and chilli powder.
Add the chicken to the bowl and coat all the chicken in the cornflour mix.
Add the oil to a large work or deep pan and place on a moderately high heat. Allow the oil to get really hot and then very carefully (and I mean VERY carefully) place a third of the chicken into the pan. Keep moving the chicken around using gently until it is fully golden brown.
Once the chicken is golden brown, remove the chicken from the oil and place in a bowl covered in kitchen roll or tissue paper to absorb any remaining oil and then fry the next third of the chicken. Repeat until all chicken is cooked and out of the wok. Remove the wok from the heat and then empty the wok to remove the oil and place the chicken back in, along with the cashew nuts and the sauce. Turn the heat back on and toss and fry for about a minute on a high heat but keep everything moving in the wok so it doesn’t stick. After a minute place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve. Serve with steamed rice or noodles.