Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cashew Chicken Salad (Low Carb)

This is a rare recipe that is all my own creation rather than a derivative or modification of another recipe. However, I can't say that the concept of combining cashews and chicken is exactly a novel one and I'm sure that there are recipes out there like this one. There is one relatively unique ingredient though.

I created this recipe because one of the cheapest types of meat you can buy in Japan is chicken breast meat for 29 yen (24 cents) per 100 grams (3.5 oz.). Unfortunately, to get this price, you have to buy a large bag with about 6-8 (half) breasts (1.3-2 kg. or 2.8-4.4 lb.). I'm pretty sure that this chicken has also already been frozen and thawed so it cannot be re-frozen raw. This is more chicken than two people can eat before it goes off and my husband doesn't care much for white meat on the whole.

In order to take advantage of this very cheap meal resource, I came up with a way to use up a good portion of the breasts in a manner that my husband would enjoy. He has this salad for lunch about once every month or two. This recipe makes 4 quite large servings or 6 more modest ones.

Cashew Chicken Salad recipe:
  • 4 (half) chicken breasts (with skin is best)
  • salt, pepper, onion powder (to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil (for frying)
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4-6 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Heat a large skillet. Add the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom with oil. Place the breasts skin side down in the skillet, cover, and cook over medium heat until half done (it may help to split especially large breasts for more even cooking). Turn over and finish cooking. Be sure to keep the chicken covered at all times to keep the juices inside. When the chicken is just finished, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool enough for it to be handled comfortably. Reserve the juices in the pan.

Place the cashews in the bottom of a very large bowl and coarsely crush them (I use the bottom of a large, sturdy cup). Add the diced onion to the bowl. Remove the skin from the chicken and cut it into bite-size pieces. Add it to the bowl then sprinkle it with garlic powder and cinnamon. Pour the reserved juice over the chicken. Add the mayonnaise and stir well. The juices and mayonnaise will combine to make a savory dressing. If necessary, add more salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

This recipe will require a bit of experimentation to meet your specific seasoning and consistency desires. Some people may prefer more or less mayonnaise and/or cashews. I like a lot of garlic and my husband actually likes a great deal of cinnamon on it. After I add the initial one tablespoon, he has me pour more over the top of his serving.

Cinnamon may seem an odd seasoning for chicken but it works very well. My sister, who is a member of the SCA, told me some time ago that cinnamon was used frequently to season various meats in the middle ages. If you're squeamish about using it, I'd recommend at least adding a teaspoon and sampling it before giving up on using it. It really does add greatly to the taste of the salad.

If you're living in Japan where cashews are expensive and sold in tiny packets, you may want to consider a trip to a Costco . A very large cannister of them can be had for 1200 yen. Even considering the cashews, this makes for a very cheap meal at around 200 yen a serving for 4 substantial servings. If you consider many people spend around 500-1000 yen for lunch everyday, you can see where this would be very economical.


Anonymous said...


Great article; you know I think I read a bit more on low carb recipes at Great site with lots of stuff, content and great comps!


Shari said...

Thanks for the link and your comment, star! I'll give that site a look though I don't think I can take part in competitions since I'm based in Japan.