A Springfield Legend
Back in the 60s, whenever our family travelled to Springfield, MO, we always stopped at Leong’s Tea House. Each time, we ordered the same dish: its famed Cashew Chicken. Ahh! the memories.
The flavorful Asian mash up was the brain child of Chinese immigrant David Leong, trying to devise a dish that appealed to Americans. Noting that southwest Missourians liked their chicken fried, Leong came up with a flavorful oyster sauce, that he put atop chunks of Southern fried chicken.
In Search of the Real Thing
I later found a recipe in a food magazine. It was submitted by a Springfield woman, so I figured it was likely to be authentic. Sure enough, the dish was much like the one served in the restaurant.
During the nineties, I took that Cashew Chicken recipe with me to the Governor’s Mansion, when I was First Lady. It became one of our favorite luncheon items. When I wrote the cookbook Christmas at the Mansion: It’s Memories and Menus, I included this wonderful recipe.
For dessert, you might want to consider toping things off with this retro recipe for Cashew Cookies.
Springfield Cashew Chicken
- 4 chicken breast halves, boned and skinned
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 3 eggs, beaten well
- 3/4 cups milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
- 3 Tbs. cornstarch
- 1-1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp. oyster sauce
Topping: unsalted cashews and green onions.
- Cut chicken into 1″ x 1-1/2″ pieces. Dredge in flour and let stand 15 minutes.
- combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
- Place chicken in egg mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Dredge chicken again in flour.
- Fry chicken pieces in deep hot oil (375 degrees) for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- For sauce, pour 1 cup broth into a small saucepan. Stir cornstarch into remaining broth. Add cornstarch mixture, sugar, and oyster sauce to broth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Yields about 1-1/2 cups sauce.
- Spoon sauce over chicken; top with unsalted cashews and green onions. Sprinkle with soy sauce, if desired. Serve over rice. Serves 5-6.