Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 3 - Chik'n & Cashews

This post is very near to my heart.  My father cooked dinner pretty often in our family, and he had taken a Chinese cooking class earlier in his life, so we often had 2 dishes that hung around from that class - beef and snow peas, and chicken and cashews.  Chicken and cashews became one of my absolute favorite favorite dishes, and what I would always request for my birthday meal.  My brother came to always request it too.  My dad passed away before I became vegan, but we've continued the tradition of having this dish for my brother's birthday, using my dad's recipe, so for the past few years I've been trying to figure out how on earth to veganize it successfully. 

An important lesson for today - don't be afraid to experiment, and don't be afraid to try again if the first 1, 2, or 3 times don't really quite work out.  If you want to make something, if you keep trying, you will eventually be able to figure it out.  :)  As I did with this!  I cannot put into words how absolutely excited I was to finally successfully recreate chicken and cashews.  I could not stop talking about it the entire night; I'm sure I drove my family crazy.  Every other sentence out of my mouth was something along the lines of "Oh my gosh this is good!  I'm so excited!  It finally worked!  So happy!"  :)  I would even venture to say it's actually better than the original.  Somehow it's just bolder, more flavorful, richer. 

The secret ingredient - seitan.  Tried it with tofu - failure.  But seitan... seitan worked amazingly.  If you've never had it, or heard of it, I liked this page for an explanation of what it is, and its history.  It basically is a meat made from the protein portion of wheat, and has been traditionally used in Asian cooking for a long time.  This was one of my first forays into using it, and it was an absolute success.

 I added some broccoli to get myself some extra nutrients - and because it's tasty.  :)

Chik'n and Cashews

1 package unflavored seitan
1 T hoisin sauce
2 T light soy sauce
2 tsp sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T peanut oil
2 scallions
2/3 C cashews
salt to taste

1. Mix seitan with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and pepper.
2. Using only the white part, cut scallion into 1/4 inch pieces.

3. Heat peanut oil in wok (if you have one, otherwise any saute pan will do).
4. Stirfry scallion until slightly brown.
5. Add seitan and sauce mixture, stirfry constantly over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
6. Add cashews, mix well.
7. Add salt to taste.

Serve hot over rice. 

Share with your loved ones and give them a hug for me.  :)


  1. Just another reason being vegan is awesome - all those happy moments when you recreate things, and they turn out! It kind of forces kitchen genius, I think. Oh, and that sounds super yum.

  2. Interesting, I'd never heard of seitan (in my head I'm pronouncing it 'satan'). I'd love to try the recipe.

    Obviously it's your blog and all, but I'd like to suggest some topics that I would find interesting reading.

    First, I want to know about vegan substitutes for eggs and dairy in baking. What the heck are they? I'm frightened of them because they seem so fake. I'd rather forgo the treat if it means not eating chemicals for any food, vegan or not.

    Second, I've been vegetarian for... oh, a long time. Thirteen years at least, probably more. I don't miss meat at all. (I do eat fish from time to time, but cut me a break. I'm from Seattle. Going to an aquarium makes me hungry. It's just in my blood.) I don't eat meat substitutes except in those rare instances (and I have had them) where not eating it would have been rude. I swore I'd never go vegan, but, to my surprise, I've been flirting with the idea for several months and have cut back at least 85% on my dairy intake. I'm interested in vegan dishes that are delicious and tasty without any substitutes for non-vegan items. That covers a lot of Indian dishes, certainly, but there must be others out there being creative with whole, natural foods. For myself, I'm less interested in recreating favorites than finding new and delicious dishes to eat. Not that I won't read your blog regardless. :)

    Happy eating!

  3. @Anna

    Please suggest away! I would love to know what readers want to hear about. I would love to help you make this transition. :)

    And I certainly agree with your thoughts on whole foods - I wanted to start with some familiar foods, thinking it would help to make the transition if you know you don't have to give up the things (and personal connections) that you love. But I will absolutely be covering all the other wonderful vegan things out there, that are just wonderful on their own.

    As for eggs, I will definitely cover that in more detail in the future as well. For now I'll mention that in the chocolate chip cookie recipe you could easily use ground flax seed instead of Ener-G (my plan is to try that next time). The bag even says exactly how to use it to replace eggs! And it's natural and way good for you. :) And in the pecan pie recipe, the eggs are subbed with tofu, which again is totally natural, even if it's processed. Hope that gives you somewhere to start until I get to go into more details!

    Thanks for being here! :)

  4. That is absolutely wonderful. Chocolate chip cookies with ground flax seed sounds interesting -- not to mention super-healthy. That would be something I would try. Thanks, Esther! So glad you started this blog. Can't wait to read more.

  5. @Anna

    Aw, thanks! Your comment made my day. :)