Thai Basil Chicken with Cashew



A little over a year ago, I met Chef Martin Yan for the first time at a Publix Aprons event. I was so girly-giddy that I breathlessly told him that he was my “culinary superhero.”

And if that didn’t scream, “freaky-fan-stalker!” then maybe he got a clue when I got a little so close trying to videotape Yan carving a chicken in 15 seconds that I almost got my bangs thwacked off. But nope, because that same evening, when I mentioned I was writing a cookbook, he actually said, “Send me a copy to review, I’ll write a quote for the back of the book.”

There was a chance that Chef Yan was just sayin’ that to be nice. I mean, he’s a celebrity chef who meets hundreds of people every day, he couldn’t possibly have remembered what he said to whom? So, two months ago, when my book was complete, I prayed that he really, really meant what he said and sent him a copy of the book galley with a kind note.

He remembered. And Martin graciously penned, “Jaden Hair delivers beautiful, simple and delicious food that will bring famly and friends to your table. She is the real deal who learned from the best, her mom. – Martin Yan.”

My publisher slapped that endorsement on the back cover of the book…and then I nearly fainted.Steamy Kitchen Cookbook The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook hits the shelves in mid-October, and I think the moment I see the real book at a real bookstore, I’m going to personally kiss the back of each book, right where Martin’s quote is.

A couple of weeks ago, Martin came back to town for a class…of course I attended and I gave Martin a big hug and thanked him profusely, freaky-fan-stalker style.


Martin Yan China Cookbook Giveaway

Martin Yan’s sponsor, Tsingtao Beer has kindly given me two autographed books to give away. CONTEST OVER…WINNER ANNOUNCED!

He wanted to send a little message to you, as he autographed these two books:

I’ll randomly choose 2 winners on July 31st. Just comment below with a nice little note for Martin Yan! What do you want to say to him? I promise he’ll read it.



If Yan Can…

carve a chicken in 19 seconds…SO CAN YOU!

This is the second time I’ve seen him do this – just simply amazing. Hear that camera-clicking? That’s me, multi-tasking. Camcorder in left hand, heavy camera in right hand. Hold still….don’t get too close to that cleaver!




Thai Basil Chicken with Cashews Recipe

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes

What I love about this recipe is that it's super quick and simple to make. What takes the most time in this recipe is cutting up the chicken! Really, it's that simple. Yes, if Yan Can Cook, So Can You!

For Gluten-free version, use Panda Brand Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce in green bottle (though please double-ck label), San-J wheat free tamari in place of soy sauce and GF beer.

Recipe from Martin Yan


2 tablespoons lager-style beer, like Tsingtao
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (or black pepper)
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lager-style beer, like Tsingtao
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or add an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
4 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
1 fresh chili pepper of your choice, thinly sliced into rings (optional)
1/4 cup lightly packed Thai basil or sweet basil leaves
1/2 cup roasted cashews


1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Place a wok or wide saute pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the chicken, asparagus, bell pepper and cook, stirring constantly until the chicken is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the sauce and bring to boil. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in chili, basil leaves and cashews.

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Comments 210

  1. Jennifer

    Oh wow, I’m so jealous! I grew up watching his show as a little kid and have always been a big fan. I loved how he gave Asian people a face on TV that was fun and friendly and talented.

  2. Monky

    I use to be a butcher for a small time grocery store (now I am an Occupational Therapist) and I strive to carve a chicken in 15 seconds… damn. Martin Yan is amazing! My best friend and I use to watch his show all the time when we were kids! If Yan Can Cook, so can you!!!

  3. Angelia

    Martin Yan rocks!! I too used to watch his show Yan Can Cook when I was a kid and loved watching his amazing knife skills. It looked like magic (and it still does)!

  4. Erica

    Since I don’t have cable, I get my food channel fix from public TV. Yan Can Cook is the drug of my choice. Mr. Yan has so much fun cooking on his show, and he makes it easy and fun! I just adore him.

  5. Christine Tham

    Most unforgettable event (shown on TV) was when he was demonstrating pizza making he flip and throw the dough, it landed on one of the audience face.

  6. Patricia H

    Loved “Yan Can Cook” when I was growing up! Martin Yan is a great chef with amazing knife skills and a wonderful sense of humor!

  7. Ladywild

    Mr. Yan rocks! Since I’m pretty sure “I want to kiss your toes” is not only inappropriate but disgusting Id have to stick with letti thin know how amazing and inspiring he is.

  8. Shoshanna

    Yan Can Cook was the first asian chef I saw on TV as a child. It always amazed me his ability to simplify a recipe. It’s pretty impressive you got to meet him Jaden; I would have been a freaky-fan as well. Imagine if both Ming (Tsai) and Martin were in the same room…hahaha…

  9. Piegirl

    How can not be happy when Yan cooks and carves with sense of humor?!!!

    Jaden, you can stalk him all you want so long as you bring back videos of Martin Yan to share with us.


  10. Wendy

    When I was young, we got this free VCD from a supermarket (ParknShop) and it starred Martin Yan, making 9 dishes with the main ingredient being one of the ‘nine staples in a Chinese kitchen’. Me and my sister used to watch it over, over and over again because he made cooking look so easy, and the way he said things were funny

  11. Amy I.

    I’m so smitten with Martin Yan! If I don’t win a book I think I’ll go buy one. I added this recipe to my to-do list, it looks delish, Jaden! Congrats on his endorsement for your book… what a well-deserved honor.

  12. Eat. Travel. Eat!

    Mr. Yan is so nice! Love the smile and his awesome technique in cutting the chicken. He makes it look so easy and effortless so that everyone can do it!

    Great photos in this post, especially the photo of the chicken and you with Mr. Yan :).

  13. Simone (junglefrog)

    What can I say…. up until yesterday I had never heard of Martin Yan… I live in this tiny “famous chef’s deprived” country called the Netherlands and we know Gordon and Jamie and that’s about it… But after having watched both movies I can understand why you would be a ‘freaky-fan-stalker’. I mean… wow, can that man dissect a chicken! Plus I think he’s incredibly funny..
    So to Martin Yan I can say; even if I do not win your book (which – to be honest – I expect not to) I will certainly go in search of it on the internet. I certainly don’t expect it to be available in any bookstore here! Looking forward to trying the recipes!

  14. joey

    I remember watching Martin Yan when I was younger…I was saw in awe! And when he started making new shows in recent years I was so excited! I would love a copy of his book! πŸ™‚

  15. Kristin

    I remember watching Martin Yan’s show as a little kid and my brothers and I would try to imitate the things he did on the show (minus the sharp cleaver of course). Not only is he an amazing chef, but he has SUCH a nice way about him and such a positive energy. I don’t blame you for being his freaky fan stalker. πŸ™‚

    On another note, I pre-ordered your book yesterday and I’m super excited to get it… even though I’m going to have to wait until October … like… two months… which is basically forever.

  16. Jenn

    Wow! I’m so jealous of your fan-stalker payoff, Jaden!

    Martin Yan and Julia Child were the two TV chefs I watched with my mom on public TV on the weekends when I was a child. I credit those shows with teaching me a lifelong love of food and cooking, as well as valuable techniques. Stir-frying has served me well as a busy grad student and new wife!

  17. jill

    I grew up watching Martin Yan and Julia Child on PBS as a kid. PBS was the only tv station we were allowed to watch, and I loved watching him. Martin Yan, you were a huge part of my childhood!

  18. Diana

    Like many, I grew up watching Martin Yan as he introduced us to foreign sauces, meat cleavers, and woks. I remember thinking wow that guy is just tossing things in a pan and making it look so effortless. He inspires the inner asian in all of us in such a comical way.

  19. Kate

    I love the way he makes me feel I really can make Asian dishes! I watch him on PBS when I can. His positive attitude is so inspirational.
    Thank you, Mr. Yan!

  20. June

    I HEART Martin Yan! I remember watching his PBS shows when I was in jr high, staying home from school because I was sick, and I’d never seen anyone with such mad knife skillz. Phenomenal. And he seems like such a jolly guy, so happy, a real role model. I always loved how, after doing some crazy chive chopping thing, he’d beam a grin out to the audience, and you couldn’t help but crack a grin right back at him.

  21. Kristina

    It doesn’t matter how many times I see him carve a chicken in 19 seconds, it never fails to amaze me! I assure you, if I tried that, I’d end up with significantly fewer fingers than I have now!

  22. Dawn in CA

    Oh yes, Yan Can Cook… LOVE that show! Back before there was food network, I was a weekend PBS addict – Martin Yan, America’s Test Kitchen, Lidia Bastianich, and of course, Julia Child. Mr. Yan’s knifework is absolutely amazing, I never tire of watching the incredible things he does with that cleaver. Thanks so much for the book giveaway!

  23. Ginny

    I’m new to food blogs and cooking, but have really enjoyed my (now quite frequent) visits to steamykitchen and taking a turn trying new recipes on my own). Martin Yan has always amazed me by his incredible kitchen kung-fu, but more importantly what stands out is his charm and thoughtfulness as well as his fun loving personality that seems ever present. He really does live life well. I’m glad you were able to meet him and it would be lovely to own one of his cookbooks. I’m looking forward to purchasing yours in the fall! Best.

  24. Kim Beckley-Reil

    I absolutely love Martin Yan! I have been a freaky fan for years and used to watch Yan Can Cook religiously! My old college boyfriend’s sister once worked with him. That is the closest association I ever got to him. I would be so excited to win his cookbook!

  25. Junith

    I remember watching him when I first got married (years ago). He always seemed like someone that you would want to be friends with. I loved to watch him chop!!!

  26. Crazy Cake Lady

    Just happened upon your awesome blog and stopped in my tracks when I recognized Martin Yan. I LOVED watching Yan Can Cook when I was young, especially since he was one of the very few (like three)Asian personalities on TV at the time. IMO, Martin Yan deserves the 99.9% of the credit for bringing Asian cooking into mainstream America. He should have statue somewhere πŸ™‚

  27. dena

    I’ve always loved Martin Yan’s “shtick” when he’d be a guest on a TV show. My favorite was when he’d brag about how he could slice up one mushroom to feed the entire audience.

  28. shimmergirl

    I grew up watching Yan can Cook, and his skill with a cleaver was downright amazing! Up to now my knife of choice in the kitchen is a cleaver, and due to his influence it is a multi-tasker in my kitchen. He was one of the pioneers of chinese cooking on television, and he was always a pleasure to watch as he demystified chinese cuisine. I already have several of his cookbooks, but I wouldn’t mind having one more!

  29. Grifila frondosa

    As great and entertaining as Martin Yan is, you always had the feeling that Hey, I could make that.

    He made dishes that looked and were simple to make and delicious.

    That’s the definition of a real pro – they make it look easy and are inspiration.

  30. devilham

    I shit you not, Martin Yan was the sole reason I started cooking, and then got me on the culinary career path. Sadly (sort of, I have a better paying job and more free time to cook for pleasure) I can no longer cook professionally (personal injury) but would love an autographed copy of his book. I am also looking forward to your cookbook as well, as I have recently discovered your site and have really liked it, as well as the other affiliated sites (simply recipes, good bite, etc.), keep up the good work!

  31. Christi

    I am Chinese and my mom and I used to snuggle up in her bed when I was little and watch Martin Yan’s cooking show on our local PBS station. I’d then watch my mom use her cleaver and was amazed by how Yan Can Cook! cooked exactly like my mom. Now as a grown woman when I see him on television or when I cooking one of the recipes I remember seeing as a little girl, I get that same comfy feeling…

  32. Heidy

    What a pleasant surprise to read about you and Martin Yan. Like so many, I watched him on PBS before there were too many cooking shows and I have one of his early cookbooks. Such a cute sense of humor he has!! Thanks for posting…and doesn’t he look great?!!!

  33. Jocel

    Back when we lived in CA, He had a little asian fast food type restaurant right by us. My parents were in town so I took them there for lunch one day and who was to show up while we were enjoying our food! The man himself – Martin Yan! He came to our table, briefly chatted, took pics and gave my son an autographed pic in his name. Too cool! I have an older cook book of his, so a signed new one would be fantastic!

  34. Julie

    I would soooo love to win a copy of your cookbook, Mr. Yan! And Jaden, I can’t wait til the fall so I can buy *your* cookbook! πŸ™‚

  35. Connie

    I’m super excited to see this recipe – this is the only Thai dish my dad will eat so I’ll be giving it a whirl next time I see him. Very exciting! Would be fantastic to win his book so I can try out a few other things on him as well πŸ™‚

  36. Fuji mama

    I’ve been a huge fan of Yan Can Cook for a long time now! As far as carving a chicken goes, if I can ever achieve his speed and precision, I think I’ll faint out of shock. Seriously. Wow.

  37. Tracy

    I used to love watching Martin Yan on PBS. He had just the right mix of expertise and goofiness.

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