Once-famous Chicago restaurateur Jimmy Wong took exception to the walnut chicken recipe that the White House released back in 1972–a favorite of then-president Nixon, known for his visits to China. That recipe included Chinese cabbage, which Wong said would never have been served to a dignitary. Wong’s recipe for “the REAL walnut chicken” has none of that leafy vegetable in it. It’s also got a step included–peeling walnuts–that’s fitting for an imperial-quality kitchen with lots of extra workers. We’re posting it in response to a request from reader Bob Kaplow for anything from Jimmy Wong.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 4 to 6 cups water
- cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups raw chicken breast or thigh meat cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 4 thin slices fresh ginger
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup each bamboo shoots and button mushrooms
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine or sherry
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water
- Baby bok choy, baby corn, extra fried walnuts and snipped green onion to garnish
- Boil water. Cook walnuts in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain in colander. Shock with cold water. Heat more stove-top water to boiling again and boil walnuts a second time for three minutes. Rinse. Drain. Remove skins. Heat cooking oil in deep fat fryer. Fry in oil at 360 until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
- Heat another 1/2 cup oil in saute pan. Add chicken and ginger slices. Stir fry for 3 minutes. Add stock, bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Add soy sauce, wine and sugar. Cover and simmer all for 5 minutes. Add most of the fried walnuts–reserving a small handful for garnish. Pour in cornstarch slurry and toss until sauce has thickened. Turn out into a bowl and pack in. Invert this onto a platter you have lined with bok choy and baby corn. (OR: If you’d like, leave the walnut chicken in the bowl and center that on the bok choy and corn.) Garnish with remaining fried walnuts and some snipped green onion.