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~ Sweet & Sour Broccoli-Orange-Cashew Chicken ~

PICT1189I find myself chuckling because it was last year around this time, January 15th to be precise, when I posted my recipe for ~ Chinese Chicken Chow Mein a la Melanie ~, which you can find in Categories 3, 13 or 19.  It too is a Martin Yan inspired dish, and I decided to cook it for the exact same reason I am cooking this one today:  it is the doldrums of Winter, I've been cooking a lot of the usual comfort foods, and, tonight I'm in the mood for a "wake the tastebuds up" meal!

A#6. Chef Yan Demo #3 (2-20-10)Two years ago I had the pleasure of meeting and spending several hours with Chef Martin Yan, right here in Melanie's Kitchen, and, assisting him with his live cooking demonstration at Penn State's WPSU-TV (that's me in the back of this picture).  When it comes to Chinese food, Yan is "the man" and Yan not only can cook, he is a master chef, as well as a charming person.  I have all of his books, and today I'm making my version of a recipe found in and inspired by his 5th book, Everybody's Wokking, which was published in 1991.

It is noteworthy to mention that the late, great Julia Child wrote the introduction to his book Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking, which was published in 1992.  In the last paragraph she writes, "Now, praises be, we have Martin Yan to show us the way.  I have enjoyed watching Martin ever since he came on the television, and I have picked up many a pointer on how to eat Chinese when I've shared a meal with him.  He has been researching this ancient art for years, he knows both classical and modern versions, and, equally important, he knows how to teach. How lucky we are to have him here with us."  How lucky was I to have spent time with him and have him stand in my cookbook library and share a few tales  about our dear Julia!

As Chef Yan explains, most of the Chinese immigrants to the US were Cantonese.  With them came their love for fresh ingredients and bold bright flavors.  Their sweet and sour flavor combinations, which are achieved via the perfect balance of sugar and vinegar, became favorites of the Americans. Sweet and sour sauce, is often made separately and used  to dress meat, fish or vegetables. This delightful version includes mandarin oranges and their juice, which is just the burst of citrus flavor I am looking forward to eating tonight!

PICT1118For the chicken and its marinade:

2-2 1/2  pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all fat and connective tissue, cut into 1" cubes

2  tablespoons  Lee Kum Kee premium dark soy sauce

2  tablespoons dry sherry

1  tablespoon firmly-packed cornstarch

1  tablespoon sugar

2  large eggs

additional cornstarch, for dredging chicken, about 3/4 cup


PICT1105For the sweet and sour sauce:

While this looks like a long list of intimidating ingredients, if you cook Chinese food at home, you'll notice they are common to Chinese food and you most likely already have them on hand in your pantry and/or refrigerator.  It is quick and easy to make too, and, don't be afraid make a double batch of it, to keep on hand in your refrigerator!


2  tablespoons sesame oil

2  tablespoons minced, fresh ginger

3/4  cup mandarin orange syrup, reserved from oranges (see stir-fry ingredients list below)

1/4  cup lemon juice, preferably fresh, or high-quality bottled concentrate

1/4  cup rice vinegar

1/2  cup ketchup

2  tablespoons Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce

1  tablespoon Lee Kum Kee premium dark soy sauce

2  tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce

1/2  cup firmly-packed brown sugar

2  teaspoons Sriracha, hot chili sauce, more or less, to taste

2  tablespoons firmly-packed cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

PICT1127For the cashews and stir-fry:

1  cup whole, unsalted cashews

2 tablespoons sesame oil 

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

2  tablespoons minced ginger

2  cups, fresh, 1" broccoli florets

2  cups, large diced yellow or sweet onion

1  15-ounce can whole mandarin orange segments packed in light syrup, well-drained, all syrup reserved (about 3/4 cup)

PICT1120~ Step 1.  To marinate the chicken:  In a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sugar and eggs, until smooth.  Place the marinade in a 1-gallon food storage bag, seal the bag and toss to coat.  Set aside for 30-40 minutes.  While the chicken is marinating:

PICT1109~ Step 2.  To prepare the sauce:  In a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth.  Set aside.  In a 2-quart saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine the sesame oil and ginger, until fragrant and beginning to sizzle, less than 1 minute.  Add all of the remaining ingredients as listed (except for the cornstarch mixture) and adjust heat to a steady simmer.  Slowly and in a thin stream, whisking constantly, add the cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and set aside.  Prep all of the ingredients for the stir-fry.  How easy was that!

PICT1132~ Step 3.  To stir-fry the cashews:  In a 12" chef's pan, place the sesame and vegetable oils over medium-high heat.  When the oil is quite hot, add the cashews.  Using a large slotted spoon, stir-fry until cashews are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat off.  Remove the cashews from the pan, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set the cashews and the pan of oil aside. You will be reusing the pan and oil.  

PICT1149~ Step 4.  To dredge and fry the chicken:  Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 360 degrees, according to manufacturer's specifications. Place about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a small mixing bowl and line a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish with paper towels.  When the oil reaches temperature, dredge 12 pieces of chicken in the cornstarch, shake off the excess and deep-fry until just cooked, about 1 1/2-2 minutes...  

PICT1160... Repeat this process, adding more cornstarch to the bowl each time, until all of the chicken pieces have been dredged and deep-fried.  Do not overcook!

Note:  The dredging and deep-frying process can be done 1-2 hours in advance of preparing the stir-fry and serving dinner.  How convenient is that!

PICT1177 PICT1199~ Step 5.  To stir-fry and serve: Return the chef's pan to medium-high heat.  Add the ginger, broccoli and onions.  Fry, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are crunch-tender.  Add the chicken. Toss in about 2/3 of the sauce, approximately 2 cups, until chicken and vegetables are lightly-coated.  Do not over sauce.  Cook for 1 more minute, to reheat chicken. Toss in the cashews and orange segments.

To serve (as pictured above and below), place 1 1/2-2 cups of steamed Jasmine rice in the bottom of each warmed serving plate or shallow bowl.  Top with a generous scoop or two of sweet and sour chicken and serve with additional sauce at tableside for dipping or drizzling.

PICT1189Sweet & Sour Broccoli-Orange-Cashew Chicken:  Recipe yields 6-8 serving, and, 3 cups of sweet & sour sauce.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 1-cup measuring container; fork; 1-gallon food storage bag; 2-quart saucepan w/lid; whisk; 12" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides, or, stir-fry pan or wok (although when writing this recipe it was my goal to show you you do not need a fancy pan to make a great stir-fry; large slotted spoon; paper towels; deep fryer; 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish

PICT1199Cook's Note:  If you have a copy of Martin Yan's Everybody's Wokking cookbook, turn to page 70, read his recipe for Fruited Sweet & Sour Chicken.  It will give you an idea of what happens when I see a recipe I like and turn it into my own. I think Chef Yan would be proud!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipem Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


Gila! You are in for a treat! Enjoy!

looks very testy i will try to make tonight!

Recipes for Chicken: Everyone who has tried my recipe has given it excellent reviews. The broccoli and the cashews add a lovely color, crunch and flavor to the final product! Enjoy!!!

I had tried a recipe similar to this one before but without the cashew and the broccoli. I wonder how it taste with cashew nuts.

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