This is a double rescue I've adapted from an old quick & easy Chinese cookbook by Ken Hom. I say "double rescue" because the book was written 25 years ago and is unfortunately probably unknown to most people today; and I have changed his instructions to cook the nuts in peanut oil heated to the smoking point, which I don't advise unless you like your nuts scorched black the instant they hit the oil! These cashews make a delectable snack all by themselves or served with drinks. —JohnL
Combine in a small bowl the salt, pepper, cayenne, and five-spice. Heat a wok or large skillet (10-inch is ideal, but I've had success with an 8-inch skillet as well), then add the oil. When just hot enough to bubble and sizzle the nuts, deep-fry the cashew nuts for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to turn slightly brown. Keep the nuts moving in the oil so they brown evenly. Ken didn't give a temperature, but I find the 300-325 degree range to be safe to prevent any scorching. While the nuts are browning, start to heat another skillet. Remove the nuts from the oil with a slotted spoon when they are lightly toasted. Do not allow them to brown very deeply, as they will continue cooking even after they have been taken out of the oil. Add the nuts directly to the other skillet. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and five-spice powder mixture and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the cashew nuts are well coated with the spices. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool completely and crisp up before serving with drinks.
Note: I have recently learned about an Indian technique used with cashews: cover the raw nuts with water and let them soak for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before frying. If anyone knows the science behind this technique, please comment! Otherwise, I'll try it myself one of these days and update the recipe if it improves this tasty nosh.