I love Asian food. I could eat at Chinese restaurants almost every single day if I had the money and someone who wanted to eat at them with me that often. As seen on Geek Girl, I’ve tried to make many Asian-style dishes at home, and I’ve succeeded in not only making my tummy happy but that of The Roommate and my sister and aunt over the last seven months. One of the dishes that hooked me on this type of food from the start was almond chicken. Now the first time I had it, the place made it with a very light sauce that was yummy, but most make it with a darker sauce. I’ve had a helluva time finding recipes for it, but about a month ago, I’d made a modified dish from my copy of Chinese Cooking for Dummies, and I realized how easy it would be to figure out almond chicken. So I bought the water chestnuts and celery and carrots and almond slivers, and I set about experimenting in the lab…er…kitchen like the good Hank McCoy of cooking that I am (the good Hank McCoy — not the current hypocritical asshat that Marvel has turned him into, you know, the one who still looked feline and hadn’t turned against Cyclops), and lo and behold, I managed to create it. Tasted just like the almond chicken at most restaurants.
The problem was that we ate all the evidence that first time before I could grab photos or make a post here about it. I also made the mistake of mentioning on the Book of Faces that I’d made this, and I had several friends making grabby hands for the recipe.
Well, here you go, folks. I made it again tonight, sans the mushrooms, though those are optional anyway.
2-4 chicken breasts, cubed or sliced (more or less depending on how many people you’re feeding)
4-5 stalks of celery, sliced/chopped
Baby carrots – half a bag, cut at an angle in thin slices
1/4 – 1/2 an onion – diced
1-2 tbsp minced garlic (this can, of course, be left out for anyone who’s allergic)
1 can of water chestnuts, drained
1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth (I use the Knorr chicken caldo powder stirred into warm water)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar (or honey)
2 -3 tbsp rice wine
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp corn starch (for those with corn allergies, arrow root can be substituted for the thickening agent)
2 small packets of slivered almonds, unsalted
1. Do all your prep work ahead of time. This keeps the mess to a minimum and allows you the timing you need to put everything together. Of course, your rice can be cooking during this time. Stir together the rice wine, oyster sauce and corn starch (or arrow root) until it’s a smooth consistency. Cut away all the fat from the chicken and cube or slice it then put it into the bowl with the rice wine mixture. Stir around until the chicken is completely coated.
2. In a large measuring cup/glass, stir in half to a full tablespoon of Knorr chicken broth into 1/2 – 1 cup of hot water then add the soy sauce and the brown sugar (or honey) while the water is still hot so that the sweetener will dissolve.
3. In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil then add in the garlic and onion, stirring around long enough to become fragrant but not to brown. Add in the chicken and whatever of the ‘sauce’ it’s been marinating in. Cook until there is no pink on the outside.
4. Add in the broth/soy sauce and stir around until the chicken is completely covered/coated. The sauce will slowly start to thicken because of the corn starch/arrow root. At this point, add in the carrots and celery because they’ll need time to soften up (without getting mushy!).
5. Give the above a couple of minutes to absorb the flavor and soften up. Add the water chestnuts in at this point and stir in completely. These, too, will absorb the flavor of the sauce, but they remain nice and crunchy. Yum!
6. Continue to let this simmer, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce is thickening up properly. At this stage, if it’s not thick enough for your taste, put a little more corn starch (or arrow root) — maybe a tsp or 2? — into a small bowl and add just enough hot water to stir it into a light paste. Add this to the sauce this way, and it won’t clump. When the carrots and celery are cooked to your satisfaction, this is the moment to add in all the almond slivers. You can also use almond slices if you can find them thick enough to hold up in the sauce, but the slivers usually come in small bags for baking or salads in the baking aisle of the grocery store. Stir them in until they’re fully incorporated into the sauce.
7. At this point, your rice should be ready, and the almonds only need a few stirs to make sure they’re completely incorporated into the dish. Therefore, it’s time to plate up the rice and top with the almond chicken. Eat eat eat and enjoy! This makes great leftovers!