If you have never lived in, visited, or traveled through Southwest Missouri then you have no idea what you are missing. If you have never been to a Southwest Missouri oriental restaurant and ordered cashew chicken then you have missed one of the best things on this dear beloved planet. If you go to an oriental restaurant, even in Southwest Missouri, and they have something called Springfield Style Cashew Chicken save yourself…don’t order it! Yes, Cashew Chicken is the stuff of legend, the occasional taste bud craving, and seriously it’s own food group. Unfortunately, up here in BoMo, since China Pearl closed the availability of ‘good’ cashew chicken is gone. I’ve been kinda jones-ing for some here lately but never in Springfield to get the hookup and too lazy to make it. It’s super easy to make. Ma and I went out a few weeks ago to a restaurant she thought she’d been to with a friend that had good cashew chicken. We ended up at the wrong restaurant. And their ‘Springfield Style Cashew Chicken’ wasn’t worth the effort or the drive. Everything else was good but oh lort, not the sauce! So, back to her house with our leftover rice and chicken and I whipped up a pot of sauce. Everyone happy! Any time I’ve been out for oriental, if it says it’s Springfield Style I need to learn to walk away. In my experience, if it’s advertised that way on the menu – it’s not. And so far, it’s not been worth eating. So today, today we make the real deal, the good stuff. Cashew Chicken. Prepare your taste buds!
If they have to tell you it’s Springfield Style, then it’s not. Trust me! This isn’t Springfield Style this is Springfield Cashew Chicken. Accept no substitutes.
Before we talk chicken or even sauce we need to talk rice. If you prefer fried rice, and if you don’t I’m not sure I can accept your sanity at face value, you need to know that to get it to turn out right you have to start with cold rice. Again, accept no substitutes. Either make the rice the day before and pop in the refrigerator or cook it and then spread it thin and pop it in the freeze for same day prep.
I sorta messed up here. I thought I had taken a picture of the rice but apparently it was just a thought and not an actual happening. The rice is easy though. Cook according to package directions and chill. Then scrambled an egg, maybe two or three. That depends on how much rice you are making and how much egg to rice ratio you prefer. To the scrambled egg add the cold (yes still cold) rice. Mix it together well, pat into the skillet and let it sit. Yes, let it sit. Don’t stir it or scramble it just let it cook. Give it 5 or 10 minutes and flip it. You can mix it up a little at this point but the key is to try and fry it on all sides. You got this!
boneless chicken cut to bite size pieces
Mix the eggs and milk together. Mix 2 parts flour with 1 part cornstarch. Trust me! Use enough to of each to be able to coat all the chicken you are cooking. Let’s talk cornstarch. Adding it to the flour helps to create a crispier flakier coating (think tempura like without being tempura) and that just tastes better. Meanwhile heat some oil for frying. I am using a sauce pan but you can also use a deep fryer, just don’t try to skillet fry – it doesn’t work so great. Dip the chicken in the milk/egg mixture and then coat with the flour/cornstarch mixture. From there to the oil and fry!
Chicken broth (or water with soup base)
This part is also easy. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Again measurements are going to be based more on how many you are feeding. I am starting with 2 cups just for myself. But then again I love this sauce! Once at a boil slightly lower temperature and in a cup or bowl or any other vessel mix about half a cup of water with cornstarch. Again measurements will depend on how many you are feeding and how thick you like your sauce. I’m using two heaping tablespoons. Slowly mix the cornstarch into the broth and stir constantly unless you like lumpy sauce. Bring to a near boil and then add soy sauce until the flavor and color are right. You want the look of brewed tea. The key is taste. For the love of gravy taste your food people! You’ll know when it’s right.
I prefer to eat from a bowl with rice under chicken and sauce over it all. The kids like to dip their chicken in the sauce. Restaurants will top with cashews and green onion. Me, I’m allergic to nuts and not a fan of onion so there ya have it. You enjoy how you prefer.