Stir-fry is all about quick cooking, and how your vegetables and proteins are diced and sliced plays an essential part in the success of the the final dish. Proteins and vegetables should be uniformly cut to insure even cooking, and this step is especially important in ding ( 炒肉丁) dishes. What exactly is a “ding” dish? Most likely you’ve already eaten one or two. The most popular one is Kung Pao chicken; the second most popular is cashew chicken. If you think about these two dishes, besides having chicken as their main protein, there is something else that’s similar about them. It’s the way the vegetables and protein are diced, specifically in a cube shape. That basically sums up what a “ding” dish is. It’s a stir-fry dish containing both a protein and a variety of vegetables, plus sometimes a nut, and its ingredients are diced in a uniform bite-sized, cube-like shape. This cashew chicken recipe brings together some of my favorite “ding” dish ingredients. First is the chicken. I picked chicken breast because it’s one of the easiest parts from the chicken to dice into cube-like shapes. If you prefer dark meat, use the thigh instead.
450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 egg white
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour
300ml groundnut oil or water, plus 2 tsp groundnut oil
100g cashew nuts
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry Sherry
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 shredded spring onion, to garnish
Put the chicken in a bowl with the egg white, sesame oil, cornflour and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. Chill for 20 mins. If you are using oil for velveting the chicken, heat a wok until very hot and then add the oil. When it is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately add the chicken, stirring vigorously to prevent it sticking. After about 2 mins, when the chicken turns white, quickly drain it and all of the oil into a stainless steel colander set over a bowl. Discard the oil.
If you are using water instead of oil, do exactly the same but bring the water to the boil in a saucepan before adding the chicken. It will take about 4 mins for the chicken to turn white in the water. If you have used a wok, wipe it clean. Heat it until it is very hot, then add the 2 tsp of groundnut oil. Add the cashew nuts and stir-fry for 1 min. Add the rice wine or dry Sherry and soy sauce. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry for 2 mins. Scatter over the spring onions and serve cashew chicken immediately.