China is starting to grow on me. Yesterday I actually chuckled to myself as I saw a little girl pull up her pants after peeing in the middle of the sidewalk on a city street.
We have our bad days together but we also have started to have more good days. Take for example the three straight days D and I just spent at the Zhangjiajie national park – everything went smoothly. Almost hard to believe. We were ushered onto the bus to the park, got through, had no problem finding the route to follow and by the end of the day in only a few minutes were able to find our hostel at the top of the park.
All with the help of at least a dozen people who we asked for directions.
For those of you not familiar with Zhangjiajie, it is supposedly where James Cameron got the idea for the incredible Pandora scenery in Avatar (and don’t worry they love to live this up in the park).
After three awe inspiring days of ooing and aahing at the unbelievable natural world out here it was time to go back to ground level and hop on an overnight train. With 5 buses to take to get to the train station I was starting to get worried that we might be cutting it close, or that we might get on the wrong bus somewhere or not get off where we need to. Luckily everyone was incredibly helpful along the way and each bus left almost the second we got on.
In between all the buses we even had the time to see our favorite soup vendor – where you gather up assorted meats and veggies into a basket, pick your noodles and a quick delicious soup is prepared for you, our fried rice lady – where you pick the toppings and with a full flame in her metal wok she mixes and stirs it up for you for $1, and our pastry lady – where we got 3 muffins for less than a dollar.
When everything goes according to plan and the people are pleasant along the way, long term travel truly is wonderful.
And when you finish off a well spent day with a hot drool worthy meal the day becomes even better.
This chicken with cashew nuts was one of the recipes I prepared during my Yangshuo cooking class (along with beer fish, and stir fried eggplant) and was delicious. Although I do question the authenticity of this recipe as I have not seen it on too many Chinese menus (as far as I can tell), it still is a recipe worth making.
I had made a chicken with cashew nut recipe in the past, though slightly different. This one uses chicken thighs and it undeniably more tender than anything made with dried out chicken breast meat. Into the mix we added carrots and a Chinese green vegetable which I could not find a direct substitute for in the US produce selection but I imagine celery or asparagus spear ends would make a good alternative. Or if you find an ingredient that seems to encompass both tastes in one, that’s what you should use — aspara-elery perhaps?
Authentic Chinese or just a Western friendly recipe, no matter, this dish was delicious and with how quickly you stir fry everything together, it will be ready before you know it.
Serve with rice for a complete meal.
Recipe from Yangshuo Cooking School
- 4 ounces chicken thighs, chopped
- 1/3 cup raw cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (use gluten free tamari for gluten free)
- 1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1/2 large carrot, quartered and cubed
- 1 stalk celery, halved and cubed or (5 asparagus spears (thick end only) chopped)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon mined ginger
- 3-4 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Heat wok over high heat until almost smoking. Reduce heat to low and add half the oil. Increase heat to medium and add raw cashew nuts.
- Cook cashew nuts until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove.
- Add remaining peanut oil and chicken, ginger and garlic. Sprinkle black pepper and cook until chicken turns white.
- Add soy sauce and mix.
- Add celery and carrot, and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add water and oyster sauce, wait for water to bubble and then stir. Cook until water evaporates.
- Sprinkle with scallions and cashew nuts and mix.
- Serve over rice.