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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.