Spicy Protein (shrimp, chicken, tofu, scallops) with Cashews

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
1 cup cashews, dry roasted (couldn’t they be raw?)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, such as Huy Foy brand, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, plus more for serving
1 pound protein (shrimp, chicken strips, tofu or scallops)
1/4 cup fine white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon fine black pepper
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

Cooked rice

In a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the cashews and 1 tablespoon of the chili sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Move the cashews to a plate, and sprinkle with the orange zest and sesame seeds. Toss to distribute the zest and seeds.

Pat the protein (shrimp, chicken strips, tofu or scallops) dry. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and pepper until combined. Toss the protein with the seasoned cornmeal to coat. Shake off any excess flour before cooking.

Line a platter with a paper towel or a kitchen towel. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot, about 1 minute. Drop a bit of cornmeal into the oil: If it sizzles vigorously, the oil is hot enough. Working in batches, fry the protein until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat and adding more oil, as needed. Transfer the cooked shrimp to the prepared platter when they are done.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and remaining 1 tablespoon of chili sauce until well combined.

When all of the protein is fried, reduce the heat to low. Return the cooked protein to the skillet and pour the sauce mixture over.

Toss the protein with the sauce and simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Serve the protein over rice, topped with the spiced cashews.

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