Pranee’s Thai Chicken and Cashew Nuts

| July 29, 2010 | 2 Comments

As children, most of us grow up eating jam or some type of fruit preserve on toast. I must have had a strange childhood because one of my favorite breakfast foods was to have toast with sweetened condensed milk drizzled all over it, or even better, nam prik pao, a thick sauce made of ground-up roasted chilis, soybean oil, palm sugar, fish sauce, ground-up dried shrimp and shallots. I know, I know, call me strange. But then I also LOVED candied land crab and candied dried fish as a kid.   

Nam Prik Pao, made from palm sugar, chili paste, ground dried shrimp, shallots and soybean oil.


Nam prik pao is one of those unmistakable flavors. Literally translated, the name means roasted chili water. Once you’ve had it in something, you’ll always be able to tell if a Thai dish has it as an ingredient. It’s commonly used in Tom Yum Kung, or Thai hot and sour soup. And it’s also an ingredient that Mom uses in her rendition of Chicken and Cashew Nuts. I think it gives this typical Chinese dish that you find on most restaurant menus a very Thai twist. Both Charles and I love the combination of earthy sweet and spicy flavors that the roasted palm sugar chili paste, etc., etc., gives the dish. Charles has trouble pronouncing the Thai name, so we always just call it roasted palm chili oil for short. 

Mom's Thai version of chicken and cashew nuts, spiked with nam prik pao.


Pranee’s Thai Chicken and Cashew Nuts 

  1. 1 cup (240 ml.) raw cashew nuts
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) cooking oil
  3. 4 tablespoons (60 ml.) nam prik pao
  4. 2-3 chicken breasts, sliced into thin chunks
  5. Some cilantro for garnish
  • In a wok over a high flame, add cooking oil. When oil starts to smoke, add nam prik pao and stir until the paste is completely dissolved in the oil.
  • Add cashews and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to evenly coat cashews with oil.
  • Add chicken meat, stirring frequently until the chicken is completely cooked, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed jasmine rice or white long-grain rice


— Vic

Cashew Chicken

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Category: Chicken, Thai

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (2)

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  1. hillsboro says:

    Can you recommend a Nam Prik Pao that doesn’t have MSG in it? And maybe one that doesn’t have MSG or shrimp?

  2. Victor says:

    Look for Nam Prik Pao made by Maesri for a brand with no MSG. I’m afraid I’ve never come across one that doesn’t have shrimp.

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