Chinese New Year is Monday, February 8th, and it's never too early to start thinking about what to serve. If your larder is lacking some of the more obscure ingredients used in Chinese cooking, you'll appreciate this simple, tasty recipe. It hails from the early seventies and my mother’s recipe box. I think one of the reasons that I liked it so much as a kid is because it didn’t have any vegetables in it and, back then, I wasn’t a fan. I did find, though, that it really needed something to perk up the overall brown look of things, so I added a couple of handfuls of fresh baby spinach. Mr. O-P isn’t a fan of spinach, so I just told him that it was bok choy! (Evil grin) My guess is that this basic recipe is fairly adaptable. I served mine on top of Basmati rice. If you plan to do the same, be sure to start your rice about ten minutes prior to making this dish as it cooks up rather quickly.
Chinese Walnut Chicken
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 pinch sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ginger powder
1 cup walnuts, broken into large pieces
¾ cup very warm water
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
Cut chicken breast into bite-size (half inch) pieces.
Mix cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 2 tablespoons of the low-sodium soy sauce in the bottom of a large bowl, until the cornstarch is smooth and semi-liquid. Add the sugar, garlic and ginger powders, and stir to blend. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat; set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a 12-inch saute pan. Add the walnuts and saute until they are golden brown. This can be tricky. It seems to take them forever to get going, but once they do, the browning process happens very quickly. Remove the walnuts from the pan to a bowl and set aside.
Into this same pan, add the chicken pieces and stir fry until they are evenly browned on all sides. Add the nuts to the chicken and stir fry for a couple more minutes. Add the warm water and soy sauce to the pan and stir to make a sauce. Do not reduce, or the dish will be too salty. If you need more liquid just add more water and soy sauce.
At this point if you’d like to add vegetables, now is the time. Stir fry until evenly warmed and serve on top of hot rice.
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