Orange-cashew chicken

orange-cashew chicken

Infinitely better than Panda Express.  The flavors are very fresh.  Pomegranate seeds are sometimes available in small containers in the produce section.  Otherwise, seeding a pomegranate is easy. Split it in half (or quarters if it is very large).  In a large bowl filled with water, break the pomegranate sections apart with your hands, separating the seeds from the pithy membrane and rind.  Discard membrane and rind.  Rub the seeds between your fingers to remove any other membrane that clings to the seeds.  Seeds will sink to the bottom and membrane will float to the top.  Remove the membrane with a fine mesh skimmer or put the bowl in the sink, or swish out the surface water (including membrane) over the edge of the bowl into the sink.  Drain the contents of the bowl and set seeds aside.  One pomegranate will yield a lot more seeds than you need for the recipe.  Save the rest to sprinkle on salads, ice cream, or yoghurt as a garnish on other entrees, or whirl them in the blender with other fruits to make a smoothie. 

For the most efficient preparation, follow the steps below.  Cut chicken last because you should not mix raw chicken with other cut foods, especially if there is a risk that they will not be fully cooked.

  • 2 cups long-grained rice
  • 1 pomegranate (or 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 large orange
  •  2 small carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces at a diagonal
  • 1 each small zucchini (corgette) and yellow squash, blossom end cut off and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized squares
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks green onions, bulb removed and cut into 1 ½ inch lengths
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  •  1 pound uncooked boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp Asian chile sauce (sriracha)
  • ¼ cup raw cashews toasted in small frying pan
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp minced ginger

Put rice in a sauce pot.  Add 4 cups water.  Bring to boil, turn down heat to low and cover.

Cut pomegranate in ½ or quarters (omit this step if using prepackaged pomegranate seeds).  Put pomegranate sections in a large bowl and cover them with water. 

Grate rind of orange and set aside rind.  Cut orange in half.

 Cut up carrots, squashes and bell pepper, peel and mince garlic.  Cut up green onions.  Set vegetables aside. Chop cilantro and set it aside.

 Dice chicken and mix with ½ of the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sherry and cornstarch.  Set aside.

 Prepare the sauce:  Using a juicer, squeeze all juice out of the orange.  You should have about ½ -2/3 cup.  Mix with the orange rind.  Add the remaining half of the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sherry and cornstarch.  Add tomato sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar and chile sauce.  Set sauce mixture aside.

Toast cashews in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent burning.  When toasty brown, remove them from the heat and set them aside.

 If using fresh pomegranates, put them in a large bowl full of water and follow the directions at the beginning of this article to extract the seeds.  Set seeds aside.

You will now have all the ingredients prepared and they will now go together very quickly in a stir fry.

Heat up 1 tbsp canola oil in a wok till oil ripples, add carrots and fresh ginger.  Stir fry for about 30 seconds.  At 2 tbsp water and cover, allowing the carrots to steam for about 2 minutes.  Uncover and add pepper, squash and garlic. Stir fry another 30 seconds, add 2 more tbsp water and cover, steaming vegetables for another 2 minutes.  Uncover, add green onions, toss vegetables and then turn them out into a serving bowl.

Add remaining canola oil to the wok and heat until smoking, add chicken and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink and starting to go firm.   Stir the orange sauce well and add it to the wok.  Stir well, add cooked vegetables and cashew nuts.  Stir fry for about one more minute or until sauce thickens.  Stir in cilantro (or if you have family members who hate cilantro, as John does, serve it on the side).  Spoon mixture back into the serving bowl and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.  Serve with rice.  Serves 4

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