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Walnut Chicken

Walnut Chicken

Walnut chicken is one of my favorite dishes to order at Chinese restaurants. The sweet mayonnaise sauce is simply delicious. But walnut chicken didn't always contain such western-based ingredients. The following recipe, from a book originally published in 1973, seems more likely to approximate the original one.

I did make some adaptations myself. First, I doubled the marinade ingredients and decided to use chicken thighs instead of breasts, simply because I like them better. And second, I used Shaoxing wine rather than sherry as I suspect the cookbook's author westernized the recipe a little bit. Either should work.

The results were good, but they would have been MUCH better if I had marinated the chicken for only 15 minutes, as the recipe called for. Instead, I let it linger in the refrigerator and the chicken absorbed too much of the marinade which made it too salty. So make sure you don't marinade more than 15 minutes.

While this recipe was good, it wasn't nearly as great as the modern version of Chicken and Walnuts, albeit it's much healthier for people watching their sugar intake.

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Walnut Chicken


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 6 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine or sherry
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cubed
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1" piece of ginger, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup boiling water


Blanche the onions and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the Shaoxing wine, the soy sauce, 2 tsp. sugar and the salt. Add the cubed chicken and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to another bowl, reserving the marinade. Coat each chicken cube with the cornstarch and then the beaten eggs. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat until it bubbles. Add the walnuts and fry until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the oil. Pour out

Add the reserved chicken, the chicken and the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned. Carefully pour out any oil from the pan and return to heat. Add the boiling water, the reserved marinade and 2 tsp. sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn down heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from a recipe in Myra Waldo's The Complete Round-theWorld Cookbook

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