This stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe for the Cambodian dish cha moan krop svay chanti has its origins in China, in a dish that is a cross between a Sichuan or Sichuanese dish and a Cantonese dish. Found elsewhere in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, it’s also similar to a dish known as ‘cashew chicken’ in the USA and Australia and it’s incredibly delicious.
Our stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe for the Cambodian dish cha moan krop svay chanti is a dish of Cambodian-Chinese provenance that has its roots in China, in both Cantonese cuisine and Sichuanese cuisine (also called Sichuan cuisine, Szechwan cuisine and Szechuan cuisine) from China’s Sichuan Province. A relative of this dish is the Sichuanese favourite kung pao chicken, however, that’s really another beast altogether, with its fiery chillis and numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
You’ll also spot this dish elsewhere in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. If you live outside Southeast Asia, particularly in the USA, you might know the dish as ‘cashew chicken’, which is part of the Chinese-American repertoire. Growing up in Australia, Lara and I have memories of a similar dish that we ate with our families at suburban Cantonese restaurants that was a tad milder and a little sweeter.
This dish is next in our series of Cambodian-Chinese dishes, the first of which was our stir-fried morning glory recipe, and we have more recipes to come. Some of these Cambodian recipes will appear in the Cambodian cookbook and culinary history that we’ve been working on for the last seven years, particularly in recent months while we’ve been staying at home quarantine cooking and engaging in cooking projects in our kitchen here in Cambodia’s Siem Reap.
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Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews Recipe for the Cambodian Dish Cha Moan Krop Svay Chanti
So what’s the difference between this Cambodian stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe and the Cantonese and Thai chicken cashew recipes?
The Chinese and Thai versions of this dish both use light and dark soy sauces – the dark soy is generally used to give depth of colour – but the Cambodian cashew chicken does not.
The Cambodian version of this dish contains round eggplants, whereas the Cantonese and Thai versions of cashew chicken do not.
Cornstarch is used to coat the chicken meat in the Cantonese and Thai chicken cashew recipes whereas in Cambodia the chicken is marinated in fish sauce and sugar.
Most Cantonese and Thai stir-fried chicken with cashews recipes use chicken breasts, while Cambodians use chicken legs or thighs as we love our brown meat here. You have to be a very deft cook to not overcook the chicken breasts with this dish.
This is important as in Cambodia this stir-fried chicken with cashews dish would be served as part of a multi-dish meal consumed over an hour or so and chicken breasts would go dry.
Tips for Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews Recipe
The quick marinade is very important to this Cambodian stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe as it adds a depth of flavour that you don’t find in the other dishes.
Remember there is not really much of a sauce with this dish and the flavour is in the chicken.
One thing I have not mentioned in my stir-frying recipes up until now is the Cantonese method of ‘longyau’. This is to coat or season the wok before cooking to give it a non-stick surface to cook with.
To do this you crank your heat as high as it will go, take the wok off heat, and add in a couple of tablespoons of oil and swish it around to coat the sides of the wok then remove the oil before placing the wok back on heat.
Here’s the link to a video of chef Wang Gang doing this. Don’t try his method at home!
Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts Recipe
- 4 chicken thighs skin on
- 6 small Asian round eggplants
- 5 dried red chillis
- 2 shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 150 g cashew nuts
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 bunch coriander use leaves only
- Debone the chicken thighs and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Marinate the chicken in a little fish sauce and a sprinkle of sugar for 1/2 an hour.
- Cut the big end dried chillis, remove the seeds and cut the chillis in half lengthways. Soak them in water for twenty minutes. Cut them into strips.
- Quarter the eggplants and soak in salted water.
- Peel and slice the garlic and shallots finely.
- Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the chillis and cashews until the cashews turn a light golden colour.
- Remove these and add a little oil and cook the chicken for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, shallots and eggplants.
- Stir-fry until the meat is cooked, then add the cashews, chillis, fish sauce, oyster sauce and palm sugar. Check the seasoning and add more fish sauce if desired.
- Simmer until the sauce reduces to a thick consistency.
- Serve garnished with the coriander leaves.
Do let us know if you make this stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe for Cambodian cha moan krop svay chanti as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.