300 g boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
½ thumb ginger, peeled and julienned
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1-2 large handful dried red chillies
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp cornflour
½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
½ tsp sugar
100 ml chicken stock
150 g cashews
3 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp sea salt
TO MAKE SALTED CARAMEL CASHEWS
Lay a piece of parchment paper onto a large roasting tray. Tip your cashews into a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle the sugar over the nuts and stir to mix through and fully combine. Using your fingertips gently break up the sea salt flakes and sprinkle over the cashews and stir once again to combine. Tip well-coated nuts onto the prepared baking tray and thin out creating a single layer.
Slide the tray into the middle shelf of an oven preheated to 180C. Cook for 5-6 minutes, shake and continue to bake until nuts have turned golden brown and fragrant but not burned. Remove from oven, stir to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and leave to cool slightly
THE CHILLI CHICKEN
Begin by slicing chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces, placing them into a prep bowl. In a separate dish mix together your marinade, adding the cornflour in last, then pour over the chicken and mix with hands to combine and massage into the meat. Leave for 1 hour in the fridge or overnight for best results.
Once chicken has been well marinated, in a wok over a high heat, add 1 teaspoon oil until smoking hot. Tip in the chicken, and allow it to sit in a single layer along the bottom of the wok without moving it for 30 seconds -1 minute or until golden brown and well seared, using the back of a wok ladle to help by pressing the chicken if necessary. Stir-fry the chicken for a further minute or two until browned on all sides, then remove into a prep bowl and reserve for later.
Return the wok to a medium heat, adding more oil if necessary, before adding in the Sichuan peppercorns, allowing them to toast for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Next, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds or so until fragrant and softened.
Return your heat to high, add the dried chillies and stir-fry for 30 seconds. It’s advisable to open a window before doing this so as not to choke on the chilli fumes! Next add back in your chicken, along with Shaoxing rice wine, sugar, spring onion, mixing to combine for a further 30 seconds before pouring in the chicken stock.
Bring the stock to a vigorous boil, reducing slightly for 30 seconds to 1 minute before removing from heat and spooning into a deep sized serving dish.
Lastly, generously sprinkle the cashews over the chicken and chillies. Serve the dish alongside steamed jasmine rice and allow your guests the pleasure of fishing out bits of chicken and cashews from the fragrant, spicy sauce- the feeling of successfully hunting for buried treasure!