Springfield Missouri Cashew Chicken Recipe

My husband is the Springfield Missouri native who introduced me to their version of cashew chicken. While it is excellent, I have never had cashew chicken like theirs anywhere else. It's a very simple dish. Rice, either white or fried, is topped with crispy bite sized pieces of white meat chicken, cashews, scallions, and a hearty brown sauce with a hint of Asian flavor. When I first tried the dish it tasted like the eastern cuisine was perfectly fused with good ol' southern comfort food. Some may say I'm crazy but the sauce tasted like it had a hint of beef gravy in it.

Those who have lived in Springfield Missouri often crave this local dish.  For those people I know who have moved away their cashew chicken craving has only been met whenever they return to Springfield. There have been numerous occasions when my husband has said, "I'm craving cashew chicken". So I finally decided to search the internet for a recipe. I came across a few recipe variations and after a few attempts in the kitchen my husband says it's near perfect. I asked what was missing and he couldn't come up with anything other than a request that I make the fried rice that goes with it. When I asked him what is in the fried rice he didn't know. So that will be my next Springfield culinary adventure.


Chicken Preparation

3-4 Chicken Breasts
2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
3 eggs mixed with a Tablespoon of cold water

Combine the dry ingredients. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and dredge them in the flour mixture. Then coat them with egg and dredge them with flour again. I like using 2 slotted spoons, 1 in the flour and 1 in the egg, to shake off the excess and help keep my hands clean.

Use peanut, safflower, or any neutral flavored oil suitable for deep frying. Insert a candy thermometer into the oil if you don't have a deep fryer. Using my gas stove with settings from 1-10 a setting of 5 allows me to keep the oil between 325-350 F. Don't leave hot oil unattended and also make sure there is room in the pan for the oil to expand without boiling over. Fry the chicken in batches until the crust is golden brown. When the chicken is lightly browned remove it from the oil with a slotted spoon and put it on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

While the oil is heating up to fry the chicken prepare the sauce.

Sauce Preparation

4 cups of Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons of Oyster Sauce*
4 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce**
4 Tablespoons of Corn Starch dissolved in 1/3 cup of cold water

Bring the broth, oyster and soy sauces to a boil and then add the corn starch mixture. Stir the mixture well and then turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer. I didn't have chicken broth so I used water and organic chicken bouillon.

*The first time I made the dish I bought Cantonese oyster sauce because it was the only oyster sauce on this particular grocery store's shelf. I'd never bought oyster sauce before so I didn't know there was a difference. The Cantonese sauce is slightly sweeter than regular oyster sauce. If you only have Cantonese sauce it will still taste good but the dish tastes more authentic if regular oyster sauce is used. I was easily able to find regular oyster sauce at another supermarket.

**Last year I learned that soy sauce is primarily made of wheat. So out of curiosity I purchased Tamari which is soy sauce that is actually made from soy. The two sauces taste similar but I'd say the Tamari doesn't taste as strong as the soy sauce does. I haven't made this dish with the soy sauce which is made from wheat so that may be the flavor my husband suspects may be missing. I also used low-sodium Tamari. Since I've only had Springfield Cashew Chicken a few times the sauce tasted great to me but my husband thought it needed some salt. I would imagine if either sauce is used with full sodium content salt wouldn't have to be added.

When half of the chicken is cooked add 1/2 of a 9oz can of cashews to the sauce and they'll soften a bit by the time all of the chicken is cooked.

To assemble: On top of rice add chicken, top with cashew sauce, and then finish with fresh chopped scallions.

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