This just sums up ex-pat Springfieldian’s deepest cashew chicken woes.
Here’s the recipe that Lyn and I use to make Springfield Style at home. It’s straight from the Junior League of Springfield’s Sassafras Cookbook. Now I will say this– I use my grandmother’s fried chicken recipe to make the chicken. This involves soaking the cut chunks of chicken in buttermilk for a half hour before dipping and dredging through egg and flour. It’s just how we fry chicken, so you can add that extra step if you like!
Recipe as the cookbook says, “A Springfield Tradition!”
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoons water
2 eggs, well beaten
(cup of flour if you frying the chicken like grandma!)
4 large chicken breasts halves cut into bite-size pieces (or tofu – see note)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
pepper to taste
1 cup flour
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup of cashew nuts
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
Soy Sauce and cooked rice
Making the brown sauce….
This is the most crucial part of the recipe and I tend to make it first before I fry the chicken (or tofu) and cook the rice.
In a saucepan, dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of broth; add remaining broth gradually to make a paste. Now this is serious people– if you add all the liquid or grow impatient (like me) and pour all the liquid in, you will regret it. Your paste will take 3 times as long to form, so just give it little drinks of broth! I do this “paste” step on the stove top using very low heat.
Blend in oyster sauce, sugar, and pepper. Stir over medium high heat until sauce boils and begins to thicken. This can take longer than you would expect, so just keep stirring. You’re looking for a pudding like thickness.
Set aside on a cool burner when thickened.
The chicken prep…
How the chicken is prepared is where me and this recipe part ways. I’ve never tried it the recipe way, so I’ll give you my version and their version.
My version: Get out 3 bowls. Pour buttermilk into one large bowl, crack and beat eggs into another medium bowl and put flour into another large bowl (salt and pepper it a few shakes).
Place chicken chunks in the large buttermilk bowl and let the soak for 30 minutes in the fridge. When time is up, take them out and dip them in the egg bowl, then dredge them in the flour bowl. I tend to leave them in the flour bowl.
Their version: Marinate chicken in milk (they use regular milk), 2 tablespoons of water, the beaten eggs, and a sprinkle of salt for 20 minutes. Dredge chicken in flour.
Frying it up!
This works for either prep method! Fry chicken in oil in a heavy skillet until crisp and golden. To prevent chicken pieces from sticking together, drop into hot oil one piece at a time. Drain on paper towels.
Get ready to be Springfield Styled!
Reheat brown sauce. Put a serving of rice on the each plate. The chicken on top of the rice and the pour the brown sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and cashews! Serve with soy sauce (but not necessary in my book!)
**Please note that due to my recent vegetarianism I do make Springfield Style with crispy tofu and veggie broth (the oyster sauce can’t be modified!)
It’s just as good. Here’s the crispy tofu recipe.
- 1 block firm or extra firm tofu – I often freeze my tofu the day before, then thaw it for 30 minutes in hot water before I’m going to cook with it. The freezing gives it a more hearty texture.
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the tofu. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and lightly crispy.
The past few years I’ve tried to create a new traditions for our family– having “Springfield Style” Cashew Chicken our Christmas Eve dinner meal. I have to admit I stole this from my childhood neighbors, The Muetzels, but good traditions come from good people. The challenge for me of course is that we can’t just go out and buy Springfield Style– Toto, we’re not in Springfield anymore. So each year we’ve made it ourselves using the most accurate recipe Lyn and I have found. I think we’ve blogged about it before so I won’t go into details of the recipe.
This being my first christmas as an almost vegetarian I also made Springfield Style with crispy fried tofu– still good people, I swear!
Once the crab rangoon and fried goodness were gone, we broke out our only long-term, unique-ish Christmas tradition… The Christmas Game.
I can’t even remember when we got The Christmas Game it’s been in our family for so long. I think it came from Skaggs AKA Osco AKA CVS. The game, like Christmas, is all about collecting gifts and ridiculous moments of chance that are very holiday specific and sort of realistic when you think about it. We love it, even dad, though he grouses sometimes about playing.
We have friends who are honorary family members and Jessica (Lynley’s best friend) has been an honorary Farris the longest. As many of you know, she and Lyn have been best friends since they were 3, so Jess basically grew up with The Christmas Game too.
During the game, there are Santa cards that help you out, Scrooge cards that are a humbug because something bad most likely will happen and reindeer cards (which are my favorite) where you have to roll the dice to find out if something good or bad is coming your way.
We had to play in pairs which is not the normal way of playing and I think how people got paired up might not have the best mix for a “friendly” game…but it’s the holidays, a time when anything goes! Let me ask you this, have years of being friends made Lynley and Jess competative…you decide.
And the winners were….
Cheers to Springfield Style and the Christmas Game– long may you be a Farris Family tradition!
A couple of weekends ago when we took family friend, Emily, to visit mom and dad, we went to the new Leong’s Teahouse.
This dish made of deep-fried chicken, brown oyster sauce, green onions and cashew nuts was created by Mr. Leong as a way to appeal to local tastes. The popularity of fried chicken meets chinese culture recipe helped put chinese restaurants on almost every busy corner of the city. There are so many “cashew chicken” restaurants in Springfield that you can get a lunch special for under $4.00 (with crab rangoon included). As most Springfieldian’s are (I’m sure Brad Pitt included), I was shocked to find that Springfield style wasn’t widely available outside of southern Missouri. If it was on the menu, there were often “additions” or “subtractions” that just didn’t make it Springfield style. The first time I ordered Cashew Chicken in Kansas City I was floured that it wasn’t deep fried. I just had no idea there was any other way to eat it! A family fight over the original recipe closed the first Leong’s. Now due to Springfield Style fate, a son of the originator has officially opened a new Leong’s. This being Emily’s first trip to the area, we had to go.
Honestly, most of the meal was spent discussing how the new Leong’s just wasn’t as good as Hong Kong Inn. I know, you would think we would be totally blown away by the originator, but the years have changed our taste buds and we prefer the Springfield style we grown to love in Leong’s absence. We were actually more of a Jade East family when I was little because they were close to our house, but Hong Kong Inn reigned supreme during my middle school/high school/ college years, and let’s face it, they’re still on my speed dial.
I’m glad we got to taste the real deal once again and share local cuisine with a new friend, but alas, all we can say is , Thank You Mr. Leong for creating this deep-fried delicacy and inspiring others to do so too.
Last Sunday was Lynley’s birthday and I wanted to celebrate her despite the fact she was states away. You know why don’t you- I love my sister!
So I made a meal I thought Lyn might like on her birthday….
Our beloved Springfield Style Cashew Chicken, in this case I made Tofu because we are more veg than not these days. We Farris girls have tomato sauce in our veins, but I think part of our brains are made of Springfield Style. Lynley created an entire Facebook page dedicated to it, so we’re not kidding around.