Mary Giambruno of Victoria, Minn., has been working on re-creating this dish for years, inspired by the chow mein served at the old Nankin Cafe in Minneapolis.
Top round steak or boneless loin pork chops may be substituted for the chicken. Giambruno makes hers with a combination of steak and pork (adding more cooking time for the meats).
Serve with steamed rice. (At Nankin, they would mix in crisp noodles.)
Servings: 4 - 6
- 2 to 3 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more as necessary
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces button mushrooms, washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1/3 cup for the sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon bead molasses or dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown gravy or dry sherry
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted (see note)
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken and cook, in batches if necessary, for 3 to 4 minutes, turning until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion to the wok or pan and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until they have exuded their liquid. Transfer to the bowl with the onions and set aside.
Add the celery to the wok or pan, adding the remaining oil as necessary, and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, just until crisp-tender. Transfer to the bowl with the onions and mushrooms.
Over medium heat, return the chicken to the wok or pan; add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and use a spatula to dislodge any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the soy sauce, bead molasses or brown sugar, brown gravy or sherry, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the sauce begins to bubble at the edges. Add the bean sprouts and the cooked vegetable mixture, stirring to combine; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bean sprouts have wilted. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and remaining 1/3 cup chicken broth, mixing well to combine. Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until the gravy is thickened.
Sprinkle each serving with toasted almonds. Serve hot.
Adapted by Mary Giambruno.
Tested by Bonny Wolf.
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