Chicken almond ding is an Asian stir-fry dish that consists of pieces of marinated chicken and a good amount of vegetables that are cooked in butter with almond slivers that have been toasted in butter. The use of the butter and toasted almonds provides the dish with a unique, nutty flavor that is carried through the different vegetables. The selection of vegetables, including water chestnuts, mushrooms and bamboo shoots, provides a textured, flavorful complement to the chicken and almonds. The completed dish can be served over a bed of steamed white rice or plated by itself for a hearty, balanced meal.
A ding sauce is usually made from only a few ingredients. These include sliced almonds, butter and sugar. The almonds are toasted in the butter to enhance their nutty flavor. The sauce is commonly used to coat chicken but also can be used on shrimp, tofu or stir-fried vegetables.
The first step in the preparation of chicken almond ding is to marinade the chicken. The chicken can be bone-in parts such as thighs, or it can be cubes of boneless breast meat. The marinade is made from soy sauce, an egg white, cornstarch and sometimes garlic, ginger and sesame oil. The amount of time the chicken marinates can be anywhere from one hour to overnight.
In some recipes, ding sauce is prepared in the pan by melting butter and then adding the almonds and toasting them over high heat. Alternately, the almonds and butter can be added at the end of cooking. A third method of creating a ding sauce is to place the almonds, butter and some sugar into a bowl and cook it in a microwave until the almonds have toasted.
The vegetables in chicken almond ding are all chopped and prepared for cooking at the same time. The most common vegetables are onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, peas, mushrooms, green onions, carrots and celery. The technique for cooking the vegetables is very typical for stir-fry dishes and involves cooking each type of vegetable individually and removing it from the pan once done before adding the next batch; this is to ensure that each type of vegetable is cooked properly. A less intensive method involves placing chicken stock in the pan and simmering the vegetables all at once, removing them as they finish cooking.
Once the vegetables are done, the chicken is added to the pan along with the marinade and cooked until almost completed. The vegetables and the ding sauce are added, sometimes with additional soy sauce or oyster sauce, and the chicken almond ding is allowed to cook until a thick sauce has developed and coated all the ingredients. When completed, the dish should be served hot and can be accompanied by white rice.
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Chicken Almond Ding is clearly an Americanized Chinese dish but the relation to real Chinese cuisine is there. The "ding" at the end seems to come from the Chinese character “丁” (pronounced "ding"), which means diced into small pieces. This character is also found in the Chinese names for kung pao chicken and cashew chicken, which are related to this dish (diced chicken and vegetables stir-fried with nuts). The butter used in the dish is clearly an American addition, as butter is unheard of in traditional cooking in China outside of minority regions like Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang.
The idea that each vegetable should be stir-fried separately is half true. In Chinese cooking, there's no need to remove each vegetable from the wok after stir-frying. You simply start with the vegetables that need to be cooked the longest (starchy ones like carrots or onion) and add the other vegetables according to how much or how little cooking time they need, spacing them out with a minute of cooking time. Peppers need longer time than cabbage, and cabbage needs more time than beans prouts, for example.
If I use olive oil instead of butter in this dish, will it change the flavor a lot? I'm trying to eat low-fat, so I don't want to use butter.
@Kristee-- Yea! Bean sprouts would go well, just make sure to add it at the very end so that it is not overcooked.
Asian cooking is very flexible, you can usually incorporate many different kinds of vegetables in dishes even if the original recipe doesn't call for it.
I like making chicken almond ding with onions, broccoli, carrots and bamboo shots. I also put both almonds and peanuts in mine because I love the nutty flavor they both bring. Yummy.
I thought I'd make things easier for myself and cook the almonds in the microwave for chicken almond ding but it didn't work. The almonds didn't roast, instead the butter splattered everywhere. I ended up doing it on the stove in a stir-fry pan.
Would bean sprouts go well with chicken almond ding? I have a can that I've been wanting to use for something, and since this dish sounds very Chinese, it seems they would work for it.
@StarJo – Since you will be cooking them some more once you add them to the dish, I would think that five minutes would be fine. If I'm toasting almonds to eat by themselves, though, I usually do ten minutes and turn them over halfway through.
The fact that they will be coated in butter and cooked some more later should make them need less time in the oven, anyway. You could always try the stove top method that the article mentioned, too.
I always toast mine on top of the stove when making chicken almond ding. It's just more convenient, since I will need the stove top hot for the cooking the rest of the meal. Plus, it means I don't have to heat up the oven.
I have had stir fry chicken and vegetables cooked with peanut oil and served with cashews, but I haven't tried almonds. However, I can tell you that the addition of either nuts or nut oil does greatly affect the flavor.
I was very happy with my cashew chicken stir fry, and I now want to try chicken almond ding. Do you roast almonds the same way that you roast pecans? With pecans, I coat them in butter and toast them for five minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.
Chicken almond ding sounds delicious but complicated. I can't imagine using several vegetables and cooking them all separately! I have enough trouble finding time to cook a one pot meal as it is.
What kind of vegetables do you usually use for this dish?
I am thinking like, carrots, broccoli, sprouts, maybe some bok choy.
That is my own interpretation though, what is the standard way to do it?
@chivebasil - You are right, there is not a single plate of chicken almond ding being served in Hong Kong today. But that being said, it is a really tasty dish. My mom used to make it all the time when we were kids and it was a real crowd pleaser. I even get cravings for it sometimes.
I have never had chicken almond ding before but from the sound of it is an American Chinese dish that someone cooked up for a 50s cookbook. Seriously, this dish is about as far east as New Jersey.
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A ding dish is any Chinese stir-fry in which the chicken and vegetables are diced into little cubes, and crunchy ingredients like nuts are added for texture.What is almond chicken made of? ›
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The recipe uses only clean ingredients – eggs, almonds, boneless skinless chicken, spices, and olive oil. It's a great source of protein and fats and absolutely delicious! Make it even healthier by using organic chicken, eggs, and spices!
More popularly, “almond chicken” in America's wide swath of Chinese-American restaurants would mean a version of cashew chicken, a dish of diced poultry, stir-fried with vegetables and cashews and then topped with toasted almonds; elsewhere, the chicken would be appropriately breaded, fried, and almond-topped, but ...