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Feeling a little sluggish after all that holiday food? This recipe will get you right back on track to good health. By the way, did you know that people watch what you buy at the grocery store? Well, I do anyway. I think it's interesting to watch people's purchases as they go down the converyor belt to see what they're buying. It's one of what I call my internal hobbies. Anyway, think how impressed people are going to be watching you buy fresh asparagus and lean chicken and green onions and rice.
This is one of my all-time favorite stir fries because it has such bright, fresh flavors - crisp asparagus, fresh lime juice, basil, and green onions - in addition to the tender chicken and nutty cashews. It's very different from your normal soy sauce-based stir fry.
You can use either a wok or a large skillet for most stir fries. A wok has the advantage of reaching a higher heat and allows you to push food up the side and away from the heat as the recipe progresses, but a skillet also works if you don't have a wok.
I bought a cheap aluminum electric wok in the late 70s that's moved around with me ever since and still works, albeit not well. It doesn't reach a high heat and it smokes a lot. Foodies are no different from any other hobbyist - we love our gadgets. So we decided to upgrade to a better wok last year and went to our local kitchen gourmet store for a little advice. The expert in the store told us to look for a heavy-duty wok that can reach and maintain a high temperature (such as cast iron), and to avoid a non-stick surface because they can chip and scratch. After repeated use, cast iron eventually creates its own (sort of) non-stick surface. I knew I also wanted a lid for our wok because several of our favorite stir fries (including the one in this post) call for steaming with the lid on as part of the recipe. We eventually chose this model based on the expert's recommendation.
In contrast to the lightweight aluminum wok, this one weighs about as much as a baby elephant. And boy can it get HOT. I think its top temp is just slightly less than the surface of the sun. It's enameled on the outside and textured on the inside. The bottom is flat and works on any cooktop surface - gas, electric, or glass. To clean it you just scrub with a brush and hot water - no soap - and then dry it thoroughly and wipe it with a few drops of oil. We've been very happy with its performance and anticipate it will last forever, like all cast iron items. If you're ever thinking about buying a good quality wok for yourself or as a gift for someone else I would recommend it.
* * click here for Bodum Wok on Amazon * *
* * click here for a printable recipe version * *
Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Cashews
½ cup roasted salted cashews
20 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal into 2 inch long pieces
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup chopped basil
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green tops
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked brown or white rice
In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of fish sauce, the oyster sauce, lime juice, ginger and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Preheat a wok or large skillet to high. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. add the oil to the wok or large skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer to a clean bowl.
Pour the chicken broth into the wok and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Add the asparagus slices, cover and cook over moderate heat until just crisp-tender, about 2-3 minutes depending on thickness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl with the chicken.
Add the sauce mixture to the wok and simmer until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken and asparagus to the wok and toss to heat through. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the basil and green onions. Season with freshly ground pepper.
Serve over rice and garnish with cashews.