Change up your weeknight meal routine with this quick and easy cashew chicken stir fry that's better than take-out.
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Cashew chicken is a staple on most Chinese take-out menus. This ginger garlic cashew chicken kicks it up a notch with some added flavors to give you a mouth-watering meal that's ready in less than 30 minutes.
When it comes to ideas for weekly meal prep, stir-fries are a really great option. They usually have lots of ingredients that can be prepped ahead of time and in most cases, the entire dish can be made early in the week and then easily reheated in the microwave. They are also simple to make and ready quickly enough to make them feasible for most weeknights.
Simple steps for making a stir-fry
Stir-fries generally follow a few easy steps. They cook up super quickly so the key to success is to have everything ready before you start cooking!
- Make the sauce. I always recommend doing this first. Then you have it ready to go when it's time to add to the stir fry.
- Chop the veggies. You can do this before you start to cook or if you are into meal prep, do it during your weekly meal prep routine.
- Cut up the meat. Unless you buy meat from your local butcher/meat counter that is pre-chopped I generally wait to do this until right before I'm ready to make the stir fry.
- Heat the oil. Hot oil is key to a well-cooked stir fry. Lately I've been using a carbon steel pan for my stir-fries but any good non-stick pan will work well. I typically use avocado oil since it has a higher smoke point than many other oils.
- Stir Fry! Once you are prepped, you're ready to start cooking. It only takes a few minutes to stir fry so keep an eye on things.
What is Mirin?
Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine that is a staple in Japanese kitchens. It gives a slight acidity to a dish and helps to give it that umami flavor that is found in so many Japanese dishes. You'll often find it paired with soy sauce as you do in this stir fry.
You can find a version of Mirin in most large grocery stores and if you are lucky enough to have a Japanese market in your area you'll likely find several different options. You can also buy Mirin online (see link under the "things you may want for this recipe" section). If you don't have any on hand and can't find it you can substitute dry sherry or sweet marsala wine. A dry white wine will do in a pinch, though you'll want to add a bit more brown sugar, about a ¼ teaspoon if you opt for this substitution.
Meal Prep Tips
If you want to start this dish during your weekly meal prep routine you can:
- Make the sauce a day or two before and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- Chop the vegetables ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Make the rice the day before. You'll want to heat it up in the microwave before you are ready to serve.
things you might want for this recipe
Mirin - This is a great item to add to your pantry if you are a fan of Asian dishes. You can some version of it at most major grocery store chains.
Garlic Ginger Cashew Chicken Stir Fry: Better than Take-Out
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the stir fry
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced red pepper
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ cup roasted cashews
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
- Make the sauce. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, corn starch and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Mix well.
- Cook the chicken. Heat the oil in a large wok or non stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Finish the stir fry. Add the red pepper and garlic, stir fry for 1 minute then add the cashews and the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional minute.
- Serve. Divide the rice between two plates or bowl. Top each with half the stir fry mixture. Top with green onions and serve.
- You can substitute udon noodles for the rice if you prefer.