Fresh, light and full of fabulous flavor, this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry is easy enough for everyday dinner and fancy enough for your most special dinner party.
Sometimes I feel like such a flip-flopper when it comes to the seasons of the year. Each time a new one rolls around, I'm (emphatically) sure it's my favorite. Currently, I'm quite smitten with the idea of fall and all the delights it brings; cozy nights at home with family and friends, fires in the hearth, dancing leaves in a zillion brilliant hues, cool, crisp mornings, geese honking their way precisely south, clear, pristinely blue skies... And I would be negligent to not include the plethora of delicious culinary specialties that the new season brings. This Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry is one of our favorites!
Thai cuisine is so perfect for cooler weather
Pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, roasted meats, soups, stews, chilis and curries. Oh yes, and there's nothing like a little nip in the air to make us start craving warm, delicious flavors. And it's funny how certain foods are absolutely addictive; the more we eat them, the more we want them. Thai cuisine definitely falls into that category for us and no one around here seems to mind when I'm testing and tweaking some kind of new curry recipe.
Despite the fact that this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry looks a bit fancy, this recipe comes together in one pot quite quickly. It starts with a couple of spoonfuls of coconut oil and a sliced onion which is sautéed for just a few minutes till it begins to soften.
Then comes all the good stuff; garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce and a touch of sugar. It all goes into the pan and cooks till your kitchen is filled with the most incredible aroma. Chicken (or vegetable) broth is added next and a slow simmer marries all the wonderful flavors together.
A simple but brilliant technique to keep the chicken tender
I use an old Chinese tenderizing trick with the chicken in this recipe as boneless, skinless chicken breasts can easily dry out or get a bit rubbery. The technique’s called velveting and is common in Asian cuisine. How does it work?
Slice the chicken breasts nice and thin then marinate in a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, rice vinegar and a touch of oil. It only needs 20 minutes in the marinade, but the result is magical! Then just slip the chicken into the simmering sauce and cover tightly. Turn off the heat and go ahead and set the table or finish your dinner prep. 10 minutes later, the chicken will be perfectly cooked. And when you take the first bite, you’ll totally understand why it’s called “velveting” - super tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken!
We like our curries to have a bit of body, so I whisk together coconut milk and a few spoonfuls of cornstarch till smooth and creamy and slowly add this slurry to the simmering broth. Believe it or not, at this point, you're just about done. You can keep going or just turn off the burner, cover and, when you're ready, dinner is just 15 minutes away! I love making this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry for dinner parties, as all the work is done long before guests arrive.
This is a delicious dinner, bursting with bold flavor and loaded with amazingly tender chicken, perfectly cooked shrimp and lots of healthy, crisp-tender veggies.
A topping of toasted, salted cashews, fresh herbs and a light dusting of curry powder adds yet another layer of deliciousness.
I like to keep bags of boneless chicken breasts and peeled, deveined shrimp in the freezer, making this curry super easy to put together, anytime! If you live inland, as we do, frozen shrimp is probably fresher than anything you can buy, since it's usually frozen right on the dock, shortly after it's caught.
We love this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry served in shallow bowls with jasmine rice. Leftovers are wonderful and make great lunches and quick meals on the run.
So, when winter winds begin to blow and I'm spinning tales of giddiness over potential snow in the forecast, the delightful fragrance of citrus, hot cocoa on the back burner or the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon rolls wafting through my kitchen and I tell you winter is my favorite season, just laugh and think of me as that little forever changing flip-flopper! But for now, celebrate this wonderful time of year and make a pan of this fabulous Shrimp and Cashew Curry. You don't have to tell a soul how easy it is, but you can be assured, they'll be telling you how delicious it is!
Café Tips for making this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry
- Be sure to slice the chicken thinly, as it doesn't cook very long and if it's cut too thick it won't get done. If you have trouble slicing the chicken thin, just place the breasts in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then proceed with slicing.
- Although coconut oil adds wonderful flavor to this curry dish, don't run out and buy it just for this. Substitute an equal amount olive oil and it will still be super delish!
- If you don't use fresh ginger and/or lemongrass on a regular basis, considering buying one or both of them in tubes. These tubes made by Gourmet Garden can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and are wonderful to keep on hand. I keep them in the freezer and when I need ginger and/or lemongrass, I simply remove one or both, allow it to thaw just long enough to be able to squeeze out the amount I need. Then I pop them (the tubes) back in the freezer for future use. These condiments will last a long time and you'll never find yourself without one of these ingredients. (Btw, this is not a sponsored pot. I just really like this stuff!)
- I like to purchase organic chicken breasts when I can. I find the meat is more tender and the portions are ridiculously large.
- I keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer, take out what I need and place them in a strainer in the sink. A spray with cold water will defrost them quickly and they're ready to go!
- I've tried a number of different brands of red curry paste and end up going back to this readily available Thai Kitchen brand. You can find it at most larger grocers as well as online. We like things medium spicy so 2 tablespoons of the Thai Kitchen Curry Paste is perfect for us. If you like more heat, use a little more, if you like things mild, stick with 1 tablespoon. I like to start with two, finish the curry and taste. I can always add more, but you can't take the heat away if it's too spicy. Also, different brands of red curry paste will have different levels of heat, so if trying a new brand, it's (again) better to start with less.
- If you're making this ahead, stop after step 5 below. Refrigerate the sauce if it will be out longer than an hour. Shortly before serving, marinate the chicken for 20 minutes. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and slip the chicken and the peeled shrimp into the bubbling broth. Top with the peppers and pea pods. Return the sauce to a simmer for 1 minute then cover and turn off the burner. Keep the cover on and don't peek - remember, there's magic going on! In ten minutes, uncover, garnish, and... voila! Dinner is served!
This recipe was originally published September 28th, 2015. The recipe, pictures and text have been updated and revised.
- 2 medium-large boneless chicken breasts about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 egg white from 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon neutral flavored oil like sunflower, grapeseed or canola
- 3 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger or 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass or 1 tablespoon of lemongrass paste
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste more, to taste
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt more, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 medium bell pepper any color, or 6-8 mini peppers, thinly sliced
- ¼ pound sugar snap peas or snow peas halved on a diagonal
- ½ cup toasted salted cashews
- curry powder for garnish, optional
- fresh cilantro and/or basil leaves for garnish
Slice chicken breasts thinly, crosswise (about ¼-inch). Whisk together cornstarch, egg white, rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon oil. Add sliced chicken and stir to coat. (I like to use my hands for this.) Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Top, tail and peel the onion. Cut in half through top and stem ends and slice into thin wedges.
Heat oil in a large deep skillet, over medium heat until hot. Add onion to skillet; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes more stirring continuously until nice and fragrant.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.
Scoop out the thick coconut cream at the top of the can of coconut milk and add it to the simmering broth. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining liquid coconut milk untill smooth. Add this mixture to broth mixture slowly, while stirring continuously. Continue simmering for 2-3 minutes until sauce has thickened. At this point, you can remove pot from heat and set aside until 15 minutes before serving time (or refrigerate if it will be longer than an hour). Otherwise proceed with next step.
Add chicken, a few slices at a time, distributing evenly into pan. Add shrimp in same fashion. Top with sliced peppers and sugar snap peas.
Return mixture to a medium simmer and cook one minute (don't stir), then cover tightly and turn off heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then remove cover. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve with jasmine rice. Garnish with a light dusting of curry powder and a scatter of the herbs and cashews, if desired.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions and tips.