photo - Cashew Eggplant Chicken Stir-Fry MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post
Cashew Eggplant Chicken Stir-Fry MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post  

This recipe sounds like a mouthful, and it is - in a good way. Cashews and red onion provide a tender crunch, and there's just enough chicken to satisfy a carnivore. The niftiest thing about it, though, is how it treats the eggplant.

You'll want to use what's called for here: slender Japanese eggplant or the baby Indian ones, so you can cut same-size rounds. Soaking them in salted water will draw out any bitterness and help reduce the amount of oil that eggplant typically soaks up once it hits the pan. The rounds cook evenly and even get a chance to sear a bit, without losing their shape or moisture. They're almost meatier than the chicken. Just be sure each one gets turned so it can cook on both sides, which is easy to do when you're cooking in a large wok.

A minimal sauce finishes the dish quite nicely. Serve with rice or atop sweet potato noodles.

Cashew Eggplant Chicken Stir-Fry

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Yield: 2 to 3 servings

1 pound slender Japanese egg- plants or Indian (baby) eggplants 1 tablespoon sea salt, for the soaking water 1/2 medium red onion 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs 2 cloves garlic 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger root 1/3 cup no-salt-added chicken broth 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 teaspoon Sriracha 1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce 1 teaspoon cornstarch (may substitute arrowroot) 1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) roasted cashews (salted or unsalted)

Procedure:

Trim off and discard the eggplant stems, and then cut the eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds.

Dissolve the salt in a large bowl of water, then add the eggplant rounds. Weight them down with another bowl so they stay submerged. Soak for 18 minutes, then rinse, drain and pat dry.

Cut the onion into thin half-moons. Trim off and discard all visible fat from the chicken, then cut the chicken into 3/4-inch chunks. Peel the garlic and ginger root; mince both and place in a liquid measuring cup, along with the broth, half the toasted sesame oil, the Sriracha, fish sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch, whisking to form a slurry.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the toasted sesame oil in a wok or nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat; once the oil shimmers, add the eggplant. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, until browned on both sides, then transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to the pan; swirl to coat, then add the chicken. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the onion and cashews; stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the slurry and return the eggplant to the pan; stir-fry for a minute or two, just until warmed through and evenly coated.

Divide among individual plates. Serve right away.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 3): 450 calories, 23 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 32 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 740 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar.

Source: Adapted from a recipe at TheFedUpFoodie.com.

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