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Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates

A sweet and spicy dish that's faster, healthier, and more flavorful than typical takeout.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chicken cashew, Chicken stir fry, Sesame chicken
Servings: 6
Calories: 448kcal
Author: Melissa Clark


  • 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
  • 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.


Used with permission from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark, Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2017. Photography by Eric Wolfinger