A ding dish is any Chinese stir-fry in which the chicken and vegetables are diced into little cubes, and crunchy ingredients like nuts are added for texture. Kung Pao Chicken is perhaps the best known example, but Cashew Chicken Ding isn't far behind. In this version, the chicken is stir-fried with mushrooms, jicama, celery, bell pepper, and cashews.
Why this recipe works:
- Cornstarch in the marinade helps create a velvety texture in the final dish.
- Jicama, an ingredient of Mexican origin that's popular in China, adds the perfect touch of slightly sweet crunch.
- Dicing all of the ingredients to a uniform size allows them to cook evenly, and creates a great contrast of textures.
- 3/4 pound chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 8 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
- For the Sauce:
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
- For the Stir-Fry:
- 6 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, stemmed and caps cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1/2 small jicama, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup (3/4-inch) diced celery from 1 to 2 celery sticks
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup toasted cashew nuts, divided
- Cooked white rice, for serving
In a medium bowl, combine cubed chicken with 2 teaspoons oil, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, sugar, salt, and cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
For the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and mix well.
To stir-fry, remove chicken from refrigerator 5 minutes before cooking. In a wok, heat 2 teaspoons oil over high heat until smoking. Add chicken and spread it out with a spatula so that all pieces are in contact with the wok. Cook, without moving, until chicken is slightly browned on bottom, about 1 minute. Continue to cook while stirring regularly until chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add another 2 teaspoons of oil to the wok and heat over high heat until smoking. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until mushrooms release liquid, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Continue to stir-fry until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
Add 2 more teaspoons oil to the wok and heat over high heat until smoking. Add jicama, celery, and zucchini and cook, stirring, until jicama has browned slightly, about 3 minutes.
Add red bell pepper, season with salt and cook until bell pepper is slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms back to wok and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return chicken to the wok and stir well. Stir sauce, then pour into wok. Continue stirring and cooking until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
Turn the flame off. Add 3/4 cup of toasted cashews, stir, then transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle remaining cashews on top and serve immediately with rice on the side.
wok or non-stick pan