Stir-fried Chicken with Glazed Walnuts

This Hong Kong-inspired recipe has become very popular in recent years in Chinese restaurants from New York to London and Sydney. Although it requires two steps, the results are well worth making for a special dinner party. The walnuts can be prepared well ahead, and once made, the dish can be assembled quite quickly. You can make a variation using pecans instead of walnuts, changing it immediately to a contemporary Westernized Chinese dish.

Ingredients

  • ½ quantity Glazed Walnuts
  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) groundnut oil or water (see variation)
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Make the glazed walnuts the day or night before you plan to use them.

Cut the chicken breasts into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes. Mix the chicken with the egg white, salt, sesame oil and cornflour in a small bowl, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and then pour in the 240 ml (8 fl oz) groundnut oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately toss in the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. As soon as the chicken pieces turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the oil. Wipe the wok clean and reheat it until it is very hot, then swirl in 1 tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil. Toss in the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for a few seconds. Now toss in the drained chicken, the rice wine and the soy sauce and stir-fry the mixture for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss in the glazed walnuts, give the mixture several stirs and serve at once.

Variation

If you choose to use water instead of oil, bring it to the boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the chicken pieces turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the water.

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