A simple chicken stir-fry that hits all the right sweet, spicy, and savory notes
In the classic Taiwanese dish, three cups chicken, a sauce of toasted sesame oil, dark soy sauce, and honeyed rice wine give morsels of chicken and scallions an extraordinary depth of flavor, while chiles and fresh ginger add verve.
In my version [from Dinner: Changing the Game], I also toss in slivers of dates and roasted cashews to add both a sugary depth and a substantial crunch. It makes a great dish ever so slightly more interesting, both texturally and flavor-wise. Even better, it comes together in minutes, making it faster than takeout and so much more delicious.
Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 2- inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 12 thin coins
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 8 green onions, (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch lengths
- 3 to 4 dried red chiles or ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
- ½ cup unsalted roasted cashews
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, about 2 pounds; preferably with skin on, but off is okay, cut into 2-inch chunks
- ⅓ cup rice wine or dry sherry
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce or tamari
- 4 pitted dates, thinly sliced
- 3 cups fresh basil or cilantro leaves, or a combination
- Rice vinegar or fresh lime juice to taste, for serving
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Heat a 12-inch skillet or wok over high heat until it’s very hot, at least 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil to the wok and swirl it around; the oil should thin on contact. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and chiles. Stir-fry until the garlic is golden at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the cashews, and the chicken, and stir-fry until the chicken starts to brown, 4 to 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the cashews are browning too quickly). Add the rice wine, soy sauce, and dates; simmer until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in the basil, sprinkle with rice vinegar, and serve over rice.