Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates

This easy stir-fry from the New York Times gets a flavour boost from fresh ginger, garlic, scallions, dried chiles, cashews, dates and fresh herbs. Top with lime juice or rice vinegar and served over steamed rice.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for sesame oil without additives, such as Spectrum Natural. Check the label on the cashews to ensure they are additive-free. I used Eden rice wine and tamari instead of soy sauce. Many kinds of dried fruit are treated with sulfites to preserve colour; I used Parnoosh dates, which are additive-free. Marukan rice vinegar contains no artificial ingredients. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit Eye For a Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4  tablespoons (60 ml) toasted (Asian) sesame oil
  • 1  2-inch (5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into about 12 “coins”
  • 6 to 8  garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1  bunch scallions (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths
  • 3 to 4  dried red chiles, or ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) chile flakes
  • 2  pounds (907 g) boneless chicken thighs (preferably skin on, but skinless is O.K.), cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
  • ½  cup (125 ml) toasted cashews
  • ⅓  cup (85 ml) rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3  tablespoons (45 ml) dark soy sauce or tamari
  • 4  pitted dates, thinly sliced
  • 3  cups (750 ml) fresh basil or cilantro leaves, or a combination
  • Rice vinegar or lime juice, to taste
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Preparation:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper while you heat a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet or wok over high heat until it’s very hot, at least 2 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the sesame oil and swirl the pan; the oil should thin on contact. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, scallions and chile. Stir-fry until the garlic is golden at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the 2 remaining tablespoons (30 ml) oil, chicken and cashews, and stir fry until it starts to brown, 4 to 5 minutes (turn down the heat if the cashews are browning too quickly). Add the rice wine, soy sauce and dates; simmer until the sauce reduces to a syrupy consistency and the chicken cooks through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the herbs, sprinkle with rice vinegar or lime juice, and serve over rice. Serves 4.

From the New York Times