It’s been a summer of stir fries for me this year so this will be the first of a few recipes I’ll throw at you, when I can convince myself to sit and write them down for you that is.
Many, many years ago I found myself working as a delivery driver for a Thai takeaway food place. The work was dreary but I got to taste most of the menu as a perk of the job was a free meal every evening. My hands down favourite was Gai Pad Prik Haeng, a stir fry of chicken, chilli and cashew nuts. I was friendly with the chef/owner of the place and I asked him what went into it. “It’s easy, two soy, one fish sauce” was the reply I got. Umm… ok. I knew little about Thai food so this didn’t really clarify things for me, so I went searching and having tried a few different recipes I found online, I came up with my own version which gets close to the delicious food I had in the takeaway.
The amounts given here will feed one person but you could safely double the amount for two.
- Some oil for frying
- 100 ish grams of diced chicken breast or thigh
- One or two cloves of garlic finely sliced or chopped
- One or two fresh red chilli peppers sliced on the diagonal
- 1 tbsp of Fish sauce
- 1 tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp of Light Soy Sauce
- A pinch of sugar of your choice
- A half a tsp of chicken powder or 80 mls of chicken stock
- A handful of fine green beans cut to a length you like
- A handful of Cashew nuts
- Some noodles
Prep all your ingredients so you have everything to hand as you cook.
Heat up your wok and add the oil, peanut oil is recommended but I usually just use regular vegetable oil. Add the chicken and quickly sear it on all sides, add the garlic and chilli. An ‘authentic’ recipe would use crumbled dried red chilli (prik haeng) but I prefer the fresh chilli, you could certainly add some dried chillies or chilli flakes if you would like some extra heat but I enjoy the freshness of this.
Take the heat of the wok down a little and add a large tablespoon of fish sauce, and a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, and a tablespoon of light soy sauce. I am sure two tablespoons of whatever soy sauce you have would be just fine. This was the chef’s magical 2 soy sauce, 1 fish sauce. Don’t forget the pinch of sugar as this touch of sweetness adds another dimension to this. Palm sugar is recommended but I just use brown and I’m sure plain old white would be fine too.
Keep stirring (obviously).
In another pan gently toast the cashew nuts, keep an eye on them as they are all too easy to burn and take them off the heat as soon as they start to brown a little.
At this stage I used to add a little chicken stock made with a third of a stock cube and some hot water but I have discovered the joys of chicken powder and now use this and a splash of water if things are looking a little too dry.
Add the green beans and allow them to cook to your liking, crisp or limp, it’s up to you.
Stir in your prepared noodles (I have to admit I have taken to using already cooked ‘Straight to Wok’ noodles for convenience lately).
Finally, add most of the cashew nuts and stir them through. I like to keep a few back to sprinkle on top of the dish as it is served. Some recipes demand you crush the cashews but I prefer the satisfying crunch you get from leaving them whole or halved.
And that’s it, empty the contents of your wok into a big bowl and enjoy.