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Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken served in SoCal??

OK, this has gone on long enough. I've lived out here for 15 years and am really getting tired of making this myself.

What am I talking about? Springfield, MO style Cashew Chicken!

"What? We have plenty of Cashew Chicken in the Los Angeles area?"

NOT LIKE THIS.

This recipe originated in Springfield, MO back in the 1940's. The recipe is different from what you are used to in several ways:

1) The chicken is battered pieces and deep fried in peanut oil.
2) The gravy contains oyster sauce, soy sauce, and chicken broth. It is dark brown.
3) No friggin' mixed vegetables. It is only topped with cashews and chopped green onions.

To the health conscious amongst you who think this sounds horrible and would not do well in this area -- I'm only going to say two words: Orange Chicken.

Cashew Chicken is served in restaurants all over Springfield and the surrounding area. It is a HUGE hit to this day and has been ever since it was introduced. Dare I say it is MORE popular there than Orange Chicken is here.

This link will tell you all about it and give you a recipe:

http://afridgefulloffood.typepad.com/...

Personally though, she got a few things wrong....you have to use peanut oil and you don't have to put the chicken back in the pan for 20 minutes (insane -- I guess to keep it warm?)

This is recipe is much more correct:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Springfi...

So, anyone here aware of this stuff? I grew up on it in the 80's and make it on my own occasionally, but since I have to get out the deep fryer, it's a pain. I'd much rather go to a place like Panda Express and order it.

I live in Alhambra, and we have a TON of authentic Chinese restaurants here, so I'm sure no one in this or surrounding cities would touch this recipe. But I'm sure Panda would consider it (I've already emailed them) or some of the "1.00 Chinese restaurants" that exist "outside" of the Alhambra/Rosemead/San Gabriel area would give it a try (basically any place that serves Orange Chicken).

The million dollar question for me is: does anyone out here *already* serve it? I'm guessing no. Springfield, MO is not exactly making any huge headway in the Culanary world. The only hope is that it is served in Branson, MO and with that place becoming quite "the spot" maybe someone would come back here and crave this stuff.

Comments please! What do I need to do to get someone to try serving this here????

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  1. No, and I doubt if you'll ever see it out here because it's such a regional favorite, and a very narrow region at that. Same thing like the chow mein sandwich out of Rhode Island and the St. Paul egg foo young sandwich found in St. Louis. Also, it sounds like a southern U.S. type of dish, which is not the type of stuff that widely found in the L.A. area. I've been plotting for 20 years trying to figure out how to work Springfield, MO into one of my travel itineraries, but I haven't come close.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chandavkl

      That's a valid point that puts into perspective for me. I am sure people from the other two regions you mentioned would insist that their local favorites would do well out here too (although to me personally they both sound kind of gross..heh heh).

      I know Brad Pitt is from Springfield. I am sure he is well aware of the Cashew Chicken there and hopefully misses it as much as I do. Maybe if I appeal to him, his star power can get it served out here. LOL

    2. I believe Hop Woo in Alhambra has this, as does Bamboo in SFV.

      Hop Woo
      1 W. Main Street.
      Alhambra, CA.
      Tel: (626) 289-7938

      Bamboo
      14010 Ventura Blvd.
      Sherman Oaks, CA
      Tel: (818) 788-0202

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Woah. Wait a minute! You mean they batter and deep fry the chicken and serve it with the oyster sauce/soy sauce/chicken broth mixture I described above? Topped with cashews and chopped green onions with no other vegetables mixed in??

        Seriously!?!??

        If that's right, then you have just changed my world forever. :)

        1. re: atrac

          Well, I just called both places and unfortunately they are both the wrong kind of Cashew Chicken. Both places pan fry the chicken, vs. the battered and deep fried chicken that is essential to the recipe. I didn't even bother to ask about the gravy since pan frying means immediate F. The funny thing is, both places seemed surprised by my question --- as if to say "Pan fried...how *else* would it be made???" How else indeed...

          But, I appreciate the effort you made to help me. Thanks for trying! :)

          Brad Pitt -- I need you man, help me out here!!!!

      2. My mother shocked the hell out of me by sending me this sauce mix! You can buy it at the Wal*Mart's in Springfield. $2.00 a container! Just add water!

        http://www.imgplace.com/image_bin/757...

        (sorry the pic is a bit blurry

        )

        I think I can stop my quest now. With the combination of your recommendation on "easy" fried chicken nuggets and this sauce, it couldn't get any easier to eat the stuff out here (unless, of course, it was selling in a restaurant).

        3 Replies
        1. re: atrac

          Glad to know I'm not the only one who is obsessed with this stuff. When's everyone else going to catch on????

          1. re: sierraskyesmom

            The current longest thread on this board deals with dishes you can't find in Los Angeles, and if you can't find a New England lobster roll in L.A., you gotta know that Springfield cashew chicken would waaay down on the list.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7160...

            1. re: Chandavkl

              Is your comment anything like the long board lists we get looking for the "true" Philly Cheesesteak here in Los Angeles? Chef's who come to Los Angeles, no matter from where, make their true regional food adapt to California tastes. You want the real thing? Either make it or go there. A true schweinehaxen is the only thing that would lure me back to Munich. And no, I can't make them myself because I've tried even having the pork shanks shipped from a German butcher on the east coast.

        2. dammit, now I'm craving Cashew Chicken, in particular the Cashew Chicken from Grand Fortuna in Joplin, which is a branch of the family that originated the recipe, all the other local chinese places that serve Cashew Chicken are not as good as the 'authentic' version.

          I do like the OP pointed out it has to be chunks of chicken. I was horrified when I came to los angeles and found out all the meat except orange chicken is served in paper thin strips with two pounds of batter. I don't think I've ever actually tasted any chicken in a los angeles chinese food dish involving fried pieces of chicken. (I jest of course, just exaggerating for comic effect. ;) Naturally Panda has actual chicken in such dishes.)

          1. Finally got to try this dish--several times. It is quite interesting and unlike anything I've ever had. Like a chicken nugget but much crispier, with a brown sauce. Don't think it would fly out here since it's really a southern dish.

            http://www.news-leader.com/article/20...

            23 Replies
            1. re: Chandavkl

              Bravo! Nice Job David! Next you are going to have to investigate the Chow Mein Sandwich of southern New England.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chow_mei...

              1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                The chow mein sandwich of Fall River and Woonsocket, the St. Paul (egg foo yung) sandwich of St. Louis, and the chicken fingers in the Boston area are just oddities. Cashew chicken is a phenomenon in Springfield. Every Chinese restaurant (and even non-Chinese restaurants) serves the dish, and more significantly, many prominently display the availability on exterior signage. One restauranteur asked me if he thought it could be exported to west and east coast cities, but as I noted I think this is too much of a regional dish.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  I guess I didn't understand the nature of the phenomenon with Cashew Chicken.. While I've had Chicken Fingers growing up and been to places which have served the sandwich, you're right it is more of an oddity, more so now then it was when I was groaning up..

              2. re: Chandavkl

                *FANTASTIC* story! and it only took 4.5 yrs to make it happen.... ;)

                No, seriously, though, I think that's great. It's wonderful when posters become "real" people. =)

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Great leg work and peristence Chandavkl...any pictures?

                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                    Did everyone notice the sidebar stories ... counting down the impending, and celebrated, arrival of our very own Chandavkl?

                    It's like the Pope was visiting (except the Pope never sample some 6000+ Chinese restaurants).

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      "It's like the Pope was visiting (except the Pope never sample some 6000+ Chinese restaurants)."

                      Does Chandavki pull up in something akin to the Popemobile though? ;-D>

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Or, as they refer to me in New York, "Mud"

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            After reading through that thread, I now know where many of the Birthers reside...

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            Maybe if he had toured through Manhattan and Flushing in the Popemobile on his Chinese restaurant tour he could have pulled the old "Papal Infallibility" card on Bob Martinez? ;-D>

                    2. re: Chandavkl

                      Never mind the picture request - it came up in the article when I glaced back! Looks good.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        That is just awesome! You're a bona fide celebrity. OP, instead of Brad Pitt, maybe David R. Chan will be the person with the power to bring Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken to L.A. ;-) Made me want to try it!

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Hey Chandavkl,

                          I went to University in central MO and my roommate and good friend for many years was from a tiny village outside Springfield called Nixa. She raved about Springfield style cashew chicken, and on my first visit to see her family she took me to her family's favorite place, "Cashew In, Cashew Out".

                          At that time, I felt very much the displaced east-coaster, and was obsessed with recreating the NYC/NJ style Chinese food (and pizza) of my youth (and failing miserably, I might add) and I was quick to dismiss the stuff. I don't remember a brown sauce, but rather a white one- although this was going in 20 years ago, so I couldn't swear to any details at this point. My overall impression of the stuff was that it was terribly bland, and the mystique of the stuff was entirely lost on me. To be fair though, I never tried the SCC "original recipe" (and didn't know the history of the stuff until reading about it here.)

                          Having now thoroughly qualified my experience, given the chance I certainly would try the stuff again. However, unless someone comes up with a niche "Cashew In, Cashew Out" FancyTruck™ (like the lobster rolls and Philly cheesesteaks mentioned earlier in this thread now have), I am unlikely to sample the stuff any time soon. Missouri is a part of my distant past, and I am happy to leave it there.

                          Thanks for checking it out for us. I would love to hear more specific details (and see photos).

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            I was on the wrong side of the camera for this trip, though if you want to see photo ops of me with Springfield Chinese restaurant owners I can provide that. Our host on the tour did post this one picture.

                            https://twitter.com/TravelinSGFMo/sta...

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              Interesting. That photo doesn't really jog my memory. Can you describe the flavor of the brown sauce? Were there any specific flavors that you can recall?

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Oyster sauce + brown gravy, I would imagine.

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  In case you missed it (found through an earlier Chowhound thread on the stuff):

                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/din...

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    Mr. Leong is a delightful person. Was one of the first waves to land on Normandy beach, came back to the US and couldn't get a loan to open up his first Chinese restaurant and was called a derogatory name by the banker. He only got his loan when he got a Caucasian businessman to co-sign for him.

                          2. re: Chandavkl

                            WOW! I haven't been on CHOW for quite some time and I come back this evening (out of boredom) to see that you've been to Springfield and tried it! And only a few days ago. What timing! I'm thrilled! :)

                            Did you eat it without any steamed white rice though? I gotta have it over rice. :P

                            I haven't had it in many years but have been living off of the online recipes and the powered version of the sauce in a jar that my mom keeps sending me. I am going to have to go back for a visit though to see family and gorge on some Springfield Cashew Chicken. ;)

                            1. re: atrac

                              There wasn't room for rice with all that cashew chicken.

                            2. re: Chandavkl

                              Now if the LA Times had picked up this story, maybe a Chinese restaurant owner would have read it and had the idea to add a Springfield Cashew Chicken dish to their current menu. As long as they have a deep fryer (so probably a $1 Chinese Food Place). Based on the suggestion of Chandavki that it doesn't fit the LA palette very well, I'm thinking Inland Empire... :P

                              1. re: atrac

                                Well we can't get Halal cart chicken or lamb rice in Los Angeles, and Springfield cashew chicken would seem to be farther down the list.

                            3. I love weirdo OCD regional threads like this. (and as a MO native minus a 20 year hiatus, gotta say I've never had this) but it reminds one that variety (however torqued) does still exist.

                              1. Well Dayummm! Guess I'll have to drag out my copy-cat recipe and make some cashew chicken! I grew up just outside Springfield and spent my college years living a block away from one of the best cashew chicken carry-out places. I ate a LOT of the stuff! Hadn't thought about it in years and now I'm craving it. My recipe is a fair replica of the real deal. Guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow. :-)

                                1. Leong's Cashew Chicken Sauce is now bottled and sold in stores. At least in the Springfield MO area. The first run of 10,000 jars sold out immediately. Perhaps you can score some once the initial craze dies down.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                      Leong's Asian Food is now selling the sauce on their website. Also $20 T-shirts.