This is Part 3 of a series of Chinese recipes that I made during the holidays. The first was egg rolls. The second was wonton soup. Now it’s time for the main course — Cashew Chicken.

Cashew Chicken is a typical stir-fry dish combining a protein — it can be chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu, whatever — with fresh vegetables in a light sauce. In essence it’s a meal-in-one. Its other virtues are that it involves minimal cooking time, it’s extremely tasty, and it’s really healthy. Good-for-you fast food.

I always thought Cashew Chicken originated in someone’s kitchen in Peking, or Canton, or Hong Kong, or somewhere way over there. Imagine my surprise when I went online to do a little research and discovered that the dish actually originated in the Missouri Ozarks!

Well, that’s just because its creator, David Leong, was a Chinese immigrant who settled in Springfield, Mo. and opened a restaurant. To make it easier for the Missouri palate to accommodate to strange new tastes, Leong created Springfield Cashew Chicken, incorporating an Ozarkian favorite, chicken fried steak, into a stir fry that featured deep-fried chicken nuggets, scallions and cashews in a soy-ginger-garlic sauce.*

Make this cashew chicken the main dish in a meal that includes the egg rolls and wonton soup. Top it off with a nice fruit sherbet and fortune cookies and who needs Chinese restaurants?

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