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Celebrating Springfield, Missouri Style Cashew Chicken!

Once upon a time in Springfield, Missouri, there was a man named David Leong who had a dream of bringing the flavors of his homeland, China, to the people of the Ozarks. In the 1950s, Leong opened his first restaurant, the Leong's Tea House, where he introduced a new dish that would become a local sensation: Springfield-style cashew chicken.


The dish was inspired by traditional Chinese cuisine, but Leong added his own twist to it. Instead of stir-frying the chicken, he breaded and deep-fried it, then served it on a bed of rice with a savory sauce and topped with cashews. The result was a mouth-watering combination of crispy chicken, nutty cashews, and flavorful sauce that quickly became a favorite among the locals.


Leong's Springfield-style cashew chicken was a huge success and soon became a staple in many other Chinese restaurants in the area. The dish even gained national recognition, with food critics and chefs praising its unique blend of Chinese and American flavors.


But what makes Springfield-style cashew chicken different from traditional cashew chicken? Well, in traditional Chinese cashew chicken, the chicken is stir-fried with vegetables like bell peppers and onions in a light sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice wine. The dish is usually served with steamed rice and topped with roasted cashews.


In contrast, Springfield-style cashew chicken is made with breaded and deep-fried chicken that is then coated with a thick, gravy-like sauce made with chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch. The dish is usually served with fried rice and topped with cashews.


Despite its differences from the traditional version, Springfield-style cashew chicken remains a beloved dish in Missouri and beyond. It is a testament to David Leong's innovation and his ability to create a dish that not only satisfies the palate but also brings people together.


Recently, even the Springfield Cardinals, the AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, have decided to embrace this legendary Springfield concoction, by creating an alternate identity for the team! The home series where you can see these new uniforms begins Thursday, May 25 - Saturday, May 27, with the Cardinals suiting up as the Cashew Chickens periodically throughout the rest of the season.


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