Wor Su Gai

It seems that I share a love of a distinctly Mid Western dish served in Asian restaurants up North called Wor Su Gai. Some folks call it almond boneless chicken.

It was one Christmas, many years ago, between family gatherings that I really acquired a taste for it. Eddie and I stopped back at our place after picking up take out at a Chinese place in Victorian Village. Everything was Columbus Ohio Winter dirty white with dusty gray snow banks and cold sun. It was a perfect Christmas morning. That lunch still stands out in my memory.

Sure enough, living in Dallas, this turned out to be a “do it yourself” dish since no one makes it down here. This post marks my first attempt … and it was well worth the effort. Cooking is much more fun when you have someone to share both the process and the results with. My partner Eddie was an equal part of this effort, and I have to say, he did a great job on battering and frying the chicken! I used this recipe which states the following prep time 15 minutes serves 4.

2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry

4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
3 cups chicken broth, homemade or storebought (fresh is best)
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (optional)
3 tablespoons chicken fat or butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water

Remaining Ingredients:
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/3 cup toasted, slivered almonds
1 green onion, finely chopped (green and white parts)
Oil for deep-frying, as needed

How to make it
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and sherry and marinate for 15 minutes.
2. While chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan until smooth.
3. Gradually mix in the chicken broth, mushrooms (if using), chicken fat or butter, soy sauce, and bouillon granules.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for 1 minute, and keep warm.

To prepare batter:
1. Beat together the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, egg, and water until smooth.
2. Coat each piece of chicken with the batter.
3. Heat wok or a large skillet and add oil to a depth of 1/2-inch.
4. Heat to 375 degrees.
5. Cook coated chicken pieces in oil until they are golden, turning them once. This should take about 5 – 7 minutes.
6. Drain the chicken on a tempura rack if you have one, or on paper towels.
7. Cut the chicken diagonally into strips.
8. Reassemble the strips into chicken breast shapes and place on a bed of shredded lettuce.
9. Sprinkle with almonds and green onion.
10. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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