I’m recreating Chicken with Walnuts, a childhood favorite homemade take-out recipe and it tastes just like I remember!
I know I’ve talked about growing up and cooking Chinese food. I mean, we grew up cooking lots of different cuisines and I loved every minute of it, for the most part. Still can’t stomach those oysters. Anyway, even as a youngster I remember one of my most prized possessions was a youth cookbook with recipes from around the world. There was Mexican, Chinese, Irish, English, and a few others I can’t remember. I don’t have the cookbook now. While I’ve grown up to bigger and better cookbooks I still remember how fond I was of that cookbook.
I think I made every recipe in that cookbook, but I can’t remember. What I do remember is another favorite cookbook from my childhood that I do have in my library. We called it the little yellow Chinese cookbook. I don’t remember it’s actual name. We just called it that because it was little, it was yellow, and it was a Chinese cookbook. I know, kind of boring, but it worked.
Whenever we wanted to cook some good Chinese food, we would pull that cookbook out. It had everything you could imagine and then some. We made hot and sour soup, egg rolls, date filled wontons, kung pao chicken, beef with broccoli, lemon chicken, egg drop soup, dumplings, and even almond cookies. I’m telling you, our house could smell like the best Chinese place in town when we were cooking up a storm from that little yellow cook.
This recipe is one of my favorites that we used to make from that cookbook. Okay. I have to confess something to y’all, and I know I’ve said this before. I was very picky growing up. I mean, to the point that when I saw all the “things” that went into hot and sour soup, I wouldn’t touch it. I was an egg drop girl after seeing tree ears. It was moo goo gai pan or beef with broccoli for me growing up.
But since Mom and Dad were persistent in getting me to eat all of these dishes, I love all of them and look back fondly on all the time we spent making them in the kitchen. To date, my hands down fave is mu shu pork with those little pancakes. I do not like the hoisin, but I’ll eat my weight in the pork and vegetable mixture. Next is probably General Tsaos. I can also kill a bowl of hot and sour and dumplings.
And egg rolls? Just not the same as Mom’s. I’ve threatened the hubs that I will be making these at some point this winter. Because they’re pretty time consuming I’d rather not try them in the middle of summer. I just get too hot cooking like that in the summer. They were my favorite for breakfast the next day, too. So so good especially with homemade mustard. You can’t beat house mustard.
Not to mention they go really well with this dish. This dish that tastes just like I remember it. All those ginger, garlic, soy flavors just flooded memories of pulling out that yellow book, choosing a recipe to cook, and all hands getting in and helping. Boy do I miss those days.
But now I get to make new memories with the hubs and I wanted to share this one with him. Since our schedules have changed, he had all the ingredients ready for when I got home. We cooked it together. He even corrected me on what gets cooked when. It was funny. It also reminded me of when we first met and we used to cook together. I’ve missed that for so long, I didn’t even know it.
So, this one dish brought of flood of lots of different memories. And it always amazes me what I think of when I cook a dish. Especially one from my childhood. Have you been flooded with memories after cooking a dish? So much so that you just have to take a step back and experience it again before getting back to cooking?
Sorry, didn’t mean to get all nostalgic on ya. *grabs tissues*
This dish is so simple but has amazing flavor. The ginger and soy coat the chicken while the garlic and veggies swim in the delicious sauce. The walnuts have a nice, toasty crunch that is completely different than peanuts. Trust me on this one. Not only are they different nuts – I know, right? Crazy! – but they have a totally different texture, flavor, and element in this dish. Do not substitute unless you’re allergic to walnuts, and then maybe try pecans or chopped Brazil nuts? Just not peanuts.
I think I have to make this one again. Soon. It’s so good and truly does make your kitchen feel like the hottest Asian restaurant in town. Dress it up and try eating on your good china with this one. It’s worth it!!
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 cups chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 8 ounces bamboo shoots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine with the one tablespoon of soy sauce, one teaspoon of sesame oil, and teaspoon of ginger and set aside.
- Combine the 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce with the teaspoon of sesame oil, tablespoon of ginger, 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce, and the cornstarch. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or large skillet to high heat. Add the canola oil and swirl to coat.
- Add the peppers and celery and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes before adding the onions and bamboo shoots. Continue cooking the vegetables an additional 2 to 3 minutes before removing from heat.
- Add the walnuts and cook until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
- Cook the chicken until browned. Return the vegetables and walnuts to the pan and stir in the sauce. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce thickens.
- Serve over rice