Grand Prix Gourmet: Chinese Walnut Chicken

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 Taking an authentic recipe from 1941 to 2015

Walnut Chicken is an “authentic recipe from Shanghai”  that was found in an old edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel (April 21, 1941).  Back then the article spoke of how few recipes Americans used for Chinese cooking, the main one being Chop Suey.  They introduced this recipe as a delightful way to combine of egg with chicken.  Thankfully, we have come a long way since then!

If you read the instructions you may notice some unusual aspects.  First, NINE tablespoons of oil?  Unless someone is deep frying, does anyone use that much oil?  Secondly, it includes no seasoning.  I wonder if that was usually left off assuming each would use their favorites, or if they didn’t use many seasonings to begin with. Lastly it says simple to cook until done. That seems pretty vague to me, especially if cooks then didn’t often fix Chinese food.  “Done” is a relative word!

Still the dish sounded delicious, the ingredients some of the healthiest, with walnuts, cabbage and mushrooms.  So I decided to try a lightened, easier version.  Here’s the original recipe, so you can see and try it if you prefer.  If you want the chicken to have more of a deep fried taste, you might find that much oil is necessary.

The Original

  •  1 3-pound spring chicken
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 5 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 3/4 cup peas, fresh
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 scallion

Original Instructions:

  •  Remove chicken from bone and dice.
  • Beat egg whites well, then add wine.
  • Add chicken and marinate.
  • In 5 tablespoons hot oil, fry walnuts, cabbage, peas and mushrooms until done.
  • Then in separate pan, heat 4 tablespoons hot oil.
  • Fry chicken, adding scallion to the pan as well.
  • Fry until done, then add vegetables to that pan just until hot.
  • Serve hot.

Walnut Chicken for today 

Walnut Chicken 2015

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken pieces (I used 1 breast, 2 thigh)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1½ cup cabbage, sliced ¼ inch thick, then chopped
  • ¾ cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 scallion or 2 green onions, sliced in ½ inch pieces
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • rice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dice chicken into bite size pieces.
  2. Beat egg whites well, then add wine.
  3. Add chicken and marinate, stirring occasionally.
  4. In 1 tablespoons hot oil, fry walnuts, cabbage, peas and mushrooms for two minutes.
  5. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil, then add chicken.
  7. Saute chicken for 5 to 8 minutes, until no longer pink.
  8. Add the scallion and cook an addition 4 to 5 minutes, until done.
  9. Stir vegetables back in, and heat until hot.
  10. Serve hot, plain or over rice if you like.

Go even easier

The Walnut Chicken tasted delicious cooked this way.  Since I prefer the vegetables crisp, I think I will cook the chicken first, using only 1 tablespoon oil, then add the vegetables and walnuts for the last few minutes of cooking.  I found cooking the cabbage first, then letting it sit, while cooking the chicken softened it more than I like.  Either way, it’s a surprisingly rich dish with the walnuts included.  Very tasty at that.  I’ll definitely be fixing this again.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

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