Almond Gai Ding

Diced chicken and vegetables are combined with almonds in this popular take-out dish. You can replace the almonds with cashews if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS | SERVES 2 to 3

  • ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • Freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced mushrooms
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Dice the chicken into bite-sized cubes. Place the diced chicken in a bowl and add the oyster sauce, dry sherry, white pepper, and cornstarch. Marinate the chicken for 20 minutes.

  2. Toast the almonds in a wok or skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan continuously so that the nuts do not burn. Toast until the almonds are golden (about 5 minutes). Remove the almonds from the pan to cool.

  3. Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat until it is nearly smoking. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken until it turns white and is nearly cooked.

  4. Push the chicken to the sides of the wok or skillet. Add the onion in the middle and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the celery, mushrooms, and salt. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until the mushrooms darken and the celery has turned a darker green and is tender but still crisp.

  5. Stir in the chicken broth, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry for another minute. Garnish with the almonds.

Almonds in Ancient Times

You'll find several references to almonds in ancient writings. In Greek mythology, the gods take pity on Phyllis and turn her into an almond tree after she is deserted by her lover, Demophoon. In the Bible, the famous rod used by Aaron is made from the wood of an almond tree.

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