It’s finally spring, which means it’s asparagus time. I love asparagus, and usually just roast it or dip it raw into some hummus. This time I decided to change things up and add it to a paleo version of one of my favorite Chinese stir-fries, cashew chicken. I love the taste of roasted cashews coated in a savory sauce, and crisp asparagus spears add another level of freshness and flavor. The shiitake mushrooms and a tiny bit of fish sauce give this recipe plenty of umami, which really takes things over the top. (Are you as obsessed with shiitake mushrooms as I am? You could use any mushroom in a recipe like this, but I find the meaty flavor and tender texture of shiitakes totally irresistible.)
I would have served this dish over some cauliflower rice, but I haven’t been able to make any since I broke my food processor last Thanksgiving. It was the saddest thing–I was using the slicing blade on my machine for the first time, preparing a bunch of brussels sprouts for this delicious Asian brussels sprouts slaw. Since I had never used the slicing function, I was used to the volume of food inside the processor staying the same, or decreasing as the food was pureed, so it did not occur to me that the processor could quickly become too full. By the time I realized no more brussels would fit inside, the machine was so packed with shredded sprouts that Ben and I couldn’t get the lid off without breaking it. So, unfortunately, there hasn’t been any cauliflower rice for me since the fall.
The moral of the story is that this stir-fry is really delicious, and feels like a complete meal even without the cauliflower rice. Also, can anyone recommend a good but affordable food processor?
Cashew Chicken with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms
Yield: 2-4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the sauce:
1/4 cup coconut aminos
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek, or more for a spicier dish
1/4 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
For the cashew chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 shallot (or half an onion), chopped, divided
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
2/3 cup roasted cashews (unsalted)
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of ghee or oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper, and toss to coat with the tapioca starch. When the pan is hot, add the chicken, and let it cook in a single layer until golden brown on the bottom (about five minutes), then flip and cook until opaque on the other side. Add half of the garlic, ginger, and shallot, and stir fry until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the skillet, then add the mushrooms and asparagus. Stir-fry until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. Add the remaining garlic, ginger, and shallot and toss to combine. Add the sauce, cashews, and chicken, and stir fry for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Serve hot, with cauliflower rice if desired.
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