Monday, August 25, 2008

Thai Cashew Chicken


2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 red onion, sliced thick
1 carrot, sliced thick on the bias
5 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 generous bunch chives, chopped
1/2 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp. dried red chili
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. good chicken stock
2 heaping tbsp. Thai roasted chili paste (naam prik pow)
1 can water chestnuts
2 tbsp. cooking oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Accompaniment: white jasmine rice
24 oz. Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, 2007 Edition

1) Heat cooking oil, preferably in either a wok or a cast iron skillet for high heat.
2) Add minced garlic and dried chili and cook 1 minute.
3) Add chicken and brown on all sides.
4) When browned, add soy sauce and oyster sauce to season. Cook 2-3 minutes.
5) Add carrots, onion, water chestnuts, and chicken stock, stirring occasionally.
6) When vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, add cashews and 2 large tablespoons of naam prik pow. Stir into sauce, which should thicken nicely.
7) Turn off heat and combine with fresh chives.
8) Serve with white jasmine rice.
9) Open Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop 2007.
10) Enjoy together.

The 2007 is the 11th Edition of Chico, CA based Sierra Nevada's Harvest Fresh Hop annual line. What the hell? Why the devil would anyone age a beer with "Fresh Hop" in the title? Well, when 24 oz. is lingering at the back of Morton Williams, and miss-marked for $3.50 instead of $5.99, that's when you drink a year-old fresh hop beer. The hops still emit a nice woodsy/marijuana hop aroma, very herbal, and the hops on the palate veer toward the pine end of the spectrum. Still some nice malts in there, good caramel color, and beyond worth the asking price.

THE ADVENTURE: First of all, I learned this recipe at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and the sweetness goes like gangbusters with a nice hoppy brew. Finding naam prik pow may sound like an impossible and tiresome quest to folks who lack neighborhood Thai grocery stores, but I'll just pass on the advice given me by my Thai cooking instructor. "Let's say I live in the States, and I run a Thai restaurant, and you come ask me where you can find naam prik pow. What am I going to say to you?? NO!?" (Maniacal Thai laughter--which for the record doesn't come off as very evil.) So, um, they'll probably hook you up at your local Thai joint, because it's an essential ingredient.

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