Almond Chicken

18 Jan

Today’s recipe comes from “Quick & Easy Chinese: 70 Everyday Recipes” by Nancie McDermott.

Continuing my theme of Asian food that I started with last week’s red beef curry, today’s dish comes from the more northern and much larger nation of China. When I chose this recipe, I was definitely thinking of a different kind of Almond Chicken – the breaded type you get with a sort of gravy from Chinese take-out restaurants. When I read over the directions, I realized that wasn’t the case, but I went ahead and made it anyway.

Again, I came across an ingredient that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find, with the sliced bamboo shoots. And again, I was pleasantly surprised to find them in the Asian Foods aisle of my local Meijer. Say what you will about supermarkets, but Meijer keeps its food selection stocked as hell, and as an amateur cook, I greatly appreciate it. One more note before we start this 14-ingredient recipe: I doubled everything when I made mine, so if your portions are looking much more meager than the ones in my pictures, that’s why. I did this because buying the ingredients for this recipe proved to be more expensive than usual (what with the dry sherry, and the $4 tube of fresh ginger I got), so I wanted to make the money go further and feed me for a few days. The giant stash of Almond Chicken in my fridge is a testament to this plan’s success.

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • ½ cup chopped onion (½-inch chunks)
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper (½-inch chunks)
  • ⅓ cup sliced bamboo shoots
  • ¾ cup dry-roasted, salted almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
Almond Chicken 1

Directions

  1. Chop the chicken breast into 1-inch chunks. Place the chicken in a medium bowl, add the soy sauce, and stir to season it evenly.
    Almond Chicken 3
  2. In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, sherry, cornstarch, sesame oil, and sugar, and stir well to dissolve everything into a smooth sauce.
    Almond Chicken 4
  3. In a wok or a large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the ginger and toss well. Add the chicken and spread it out into a single layer. Cook undisturbed until the edges turn white, about 1 minute, and then toss well.
    Almond Chicken 5
  4. Add the onion and green pepper. Cook, tossing now and then, until all the chicken has changed color and the onions and peppers are fragrant and beginning to wilt.
    Almond Chicken 6
  5. Add the bamboo shoots and cook, tossing often, until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute more.
    Almond Chicken 7
  6. Add the chicken stock mixture, pouring it in around the sides of the pan. Toss well to mix everything together.
  7. As soon as the sauce thickens, add the almonds and green onion and toss just until everything is evenly mixed together.
    Almond Chicken 8
Serve with rice. Serves 4.

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As soon as that ginger and soy started cooking together, I knew I was in for a treat – the aroma was quite pleasant. In the end, I was pretty surprised that all of these ingredients came together in such a cohesive taste. This protein-packed dish had a sort of carefully-constructed flavor to it, the result of so many things coming together. And this was my first time eating sliced bamboo shoots, as well. I tried one before it went into the recipe and it had a very mild taste to it. As part of the final dish, its texture was an excellent addition, and really, I’d say this dish was about texture more than anything else. What with the crunchy bamboo shoots, the crunchier almonds, and the vegetables and chicken all coming together, each bite is like a trail mix of delicious Chinese flavoring.

I recommend serving it on rice, because really, why not? Last night when I first made it, I had the dish as it was. Today when I had some of the leftovers for lunch, I added my trusty Sriracha, and was not disappointed. While cooking this meal itself wasn’t that difficult, a lot of prep has to go into the ingredients, but if you like Chinese food or any food that has lots of disparate elements coming together wonderfully, it’s well worth the effort.

Almond Chicken 10

Almond Chicken 12

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One Response to “Almond Chicken”

  1. American Aussie 2012/01/18 at 4:50 pm #

    This dish sounds like the almond chicken I can get here in Oz. The first time I ordered almond chicken here in Oz, like you, I expected the breaded type, but I got this instead. It is really good, and I will be trying your recipe soon. Love your sight.

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