When I’m having one of those 'what should we have for dinner tomorrow night' lack of inspiration moments, I often grab a Donna Hay book. I know the photos will quickly stir ideas for interesting meals, and I’ll be reminded of several things that I’ve been meaning to cook since I first got each book. Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf is where I found this Asian-inspired cashew chicken dish. The flavors here are bright and lively with lemon juice, cilantro, and fish sauce, and there’s a minimum of fuss in the preparation. For a stir fry meal, the list of vegetables to chop was a short one with only red bell pepper, red chillis, and onion. You could easily make this a little more complicated with the addition of some greens like spinach or baby bok choy, but I stuck to the original version.
Thick rice noodles were boiled while the boneless chicken was sliced and the vegetables were chopped. The stir frying began with the onion and chillis. Once fragrant and cooked through, those were removed from the pan, and the sliced chicken was added and browned. Then, sliced bell pepper and whole cashews were added followed by fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, the onion and chilli mixture, and the drained, cooked noodles. Everything was tossed until combined and topped with cilantro leaves. I held back a few red chilli slices to garnish each serving.
As is typical of Donna Hay dishes, this was as flavorful as it was easy to prepare. It was a comfort food kind of meal with lots of textural contrast between the noodles and the crunchy peppers and nuts. I was a little surprised that lemon was used here instead of lime, but the flavor wasn’t a disappointment. It mixed nicely with the fish sauce and soy sauce, and of course cashews and chicken just always play well together. And, the good news is that looking through that book again gave me some renewed inspiration for a few more upcoming meals.