But I digress. About woks...you'll want to use a flat-bottomed wok, though in a pinch you can use a steel or iron frying or saute pan. Nonstick pans are dismissed by traditionalists because they require lower heat, but they make cleanup so easy that they're hard to resist. I have both kinds and I only use the nonstick now.
Ordinary frying pans usually have low sides and the constant stirring will push the food out and onto the floor, so watch out. If you're using a frying pan then it's best to cook the vegetables separately, after the chicken's been removed, so you'll have more room in the pan. If you have a old-style steel wok you haven't used in a long time it might be rusty, so you'll have some strenuous cleaning to do. For rust use steel wool and soap.
Here's (above) the recipe I use, from Helen Chen's "Chinese Home Cooking." I hope you can read it. Click to enlarge.
This recipe serves four. If I'm cooking the meal for myself only then I use half the amount of everything, not a fourth. Why the extra 25%? It's because I added added vegetables to the recipe. Believe me, this dish tastes twice as good when combined with vegetables!
About the chicken: To make it easy on yourself buy boneless, skinless breasts. At my local supermarket these are on sale at least once a month. The last time I shopped the sale price for a 2 1/2 lb. pack of four large breasts (unfrozen) was $5.50
If you're only cooking for yourself you'll want to use one breast and freeze the other 3. Remove the supermarket wrapping and re-wrap each one separately before freezing. If you freeze all four at once in their original wrapping they'll stick together and you'll need a flame thrower to separate them. When the chicken is thawed and ready to cook, dice it into small squares. The parts won't really look like squares, but that's what you should aim for.
For the rice you'll want long grain white Jasmine. I have a bag of short grain Japanese sticky rice that I have to finish up, so I use that. It's delicious and easy to eat with chopsticks, but I have to admit that it's so good that it competes with the taste of the main dish.
Oil: peanut oil used to be popular for stir fry because it resists smoking at high temperatures, and smoking can give food a scorched taste. I use grape seed oil because it's almost as heat resistant, and is more healthful. The taste is about the same.
Soy sauce: Kikkoman has the best taste of all, but it's too thin and watery to stand up to the high heat of stir frying. For that you need something thicker. Try "Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark Soy Sauce (above)." obtainable at Chinese markets. Gee, that's a beautiful name isn't it?
Ginger root: buy it hard and firm. For one meal you only need a single small root.
Hoisin sauce: this is one of the things that gives Chinese dishes their distinctive flavor. The supermarket kind in a jar is fine. I like to add a little Chinese oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Flavored Sauce) and pepper, but these are optional.
Okay, that's it. Before cooking have all the ingredients prepared and easily accessible. If you have to stop to look for something while cooking the food will overcook. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK. It's frighteningly easy to cook the flavor away, or give it a scorchy taste. If you're not sure about the cooking time, it's best to error on the side of undercooking.
Take care to be sure the important areas of the wok are thoroughly oiled before subjecting the wok to high heat and garlic. Constantly shake the wok when cooking; constantly stir. Wok cooking uses intense heat for short periods of time. Have the table set, have the rice already cooked and on the plates, and have drinks at the ready. The cooking will go very quickly and you or your guests will want to start eating the instant the food is moved onto the plate. Guests should never wait for the cook to be seated. The food is at maximum flavor the moment it touches the plate.
Oh, I almost forgot the vegetables! If you cook them separately then cook them last of all, over medium heat, and almost all at once. I say "almost" because you'll want to add the most delicate things, like spinach leaves and sesame oil, last.
The drink? Beer or a moderately sweet white wine is most common. I tried a Gewurztraminer (spelled right?) and that worked fine. Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck version of Sauvignon Blanc worked fine too. Helen Chen says the Chinese don't drink alcohol with meals unless they're celebrating something. They prefer to drink chicken broth, with a little tea afterward.
So there it is! You can find videos about seasoning and cleaning a steel wok on YouTube. You can also find videos on the making of Cashew Chicken, but none of them agree.
For the time being I'll stick to Chen's recipe. Chen's version wins the coveted 'Two Day Glow" rating that I bestow on only on the best recipes, the ones that incite you to hippie bliss (above) and the feeling that all men are your brothers for a full two days after eating the meal. I love Chinese restaurant meals, but they've never given me the glow that Chen's recipes have.