Thai Cashew Chicken

4 Servings

35 minutes

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The Thai stir-fried cashew chicken, or gai pad med mamuang himmaphan, that home cook and food blogger Rawadee Yenchujit taught us in her Bangkok kitchen was a revelation. Deliciously filled with contrasting tastes and textures and with balanced savoriness, sweetness and spice plus loads of umami, it bore little resemblance to the goopy, sugary dish Thai restaurants tend to serve in the U.S. We opted to skip shallow-­frying the chicken as we were taught in Bangkok, and instead stir-fry it in batches, which requires a fraction of the oil. We also chose to include onion and scallions as the only vegetables, allowing the chicken and cashews to be front and center. We tried to do without Thai chili paste, or chili “jam”—nam prik pao, in Thai—but we discovered it’s an important element in the stir-fry. The mixture is thick, dark red and rather oily. Made by blending fried shallots, garlic, dried chilies, shrimp paste, tamarind and other ingredients, the paste is intensely and inimitably flavorful. Thai Kitchen roasted chili paste is sold in small jars in the international aisle of most supermarkets. Whole árbol chilies bring spiciness and aroma that supplements the red pepper flakes, but they’re optional, so feel free to leave them out. Steamed jasmine rice is the perfect accompaniment.




Don’t skip the step of stir-­frying the cashews. The cashews may already be roasted, but toasting them browns them a bit more to really bring out their sweet nuttiness. When cooking the chicken, don’t stir too often—every 30 to 45 seconds is good—so the pieces take on good browning, which adds depth of flavor. But as you stir-fry, be sure to scrape up the flavorful browned bits that form on the bottom of the wok.

35 minutes


  • 3

    tablespoons soy sauce, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons all-purpose flour


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Paul W.
May 1, 2023
Great Recipe
We have made and enjoyed this recipe several times and always enjoyed it! The one change I have made is to substitute cornstarch for the AP flour and added a healthy half teaspoon of baking soda. If you leave the chicken disturbed it browns very easily using this approach. Keep these great recipes coming Milk Street.
Bill O.
April 25, 2023
Great dish
Maybe my favorite chicken stir fry ever. Great flavor, simple to do. Ate just by itself, without rice, to keep it low carb. I subbed sambol oleck for the chile sauce and left out the red pepper flakes and the heat was just right for us.
Andrew H.
April 16, 2023
One of the best (if not the best) Asian recipes we've ever made. Ended up deglazing the pan with a little chicken stock b/c there was so much crusty good stuff that needed to come off and it needed a bit of liquid help.
Kathleen J.
March 19, 2023
Who needs takeout after eating this?!?
One of the best things I’ve made from Milk Street so far. Easy to follow recipe (just be prepared to use a lot of bowls), and the spice level (minus the peppers, which I didn’t use) was just right - mild to medium. I’ll definitely be making this again.
Janice M.
March 13, 2023
Perfect recipe!
I made this almost as written, with the only change being to add a few more ounces of chicken thigh. My husband and I both LOVED this recipe! I did have to go to three groceries stores in order to find the Thai chili paste (relatively small population base), but the author of the recipe is correct; this ingredient is essential to the final flavor profile. You will not be disappointed...