Tag Archives: cashew chicken

Springfield, MO: Center of the Culinary Universe

Just kidding.  But at least it is today.  I about fell over when I clicked to the NY Times food section today saw this article on Springfield-style cashew chicken. 

To those unbaptized in the oyster sauce gravy, this is a dish that unites Springfieldians culturally.  It’s basically fried chunks of chicken (all white, naturally), bathed in the aforementioned gravy and sprinkled with cashew nuts and chopped green onions.

I took this photo at Fire & Ice while I was in town visiting last summer.    This recipe is THE original SSCC.  Fire & Ice only serves this dish on Wednesdays and native Springfieldians pack the place to get a taste of  this particular cashew chicken because of its pedigree.  The then-chef at Fire & Ice was Wing Yee Leong, the son of David Leong who is the father of SSCC.

When I went back to Fire & Ice in January something was terribly wrong.  Someone had tinkered with the recipe.  I detected Chinese five spice in the batter and I was not pleased.  I looked around the restaurant’s open kitchen and noticed Wing Yee was not there.  Today’s NY Times article confirmed my suspicions. He left the restaurant in December. 

Even though SSCC isn’t authentic Chinese cuisine, its authenticity comes from its roots here in Springfield. And for people like me who cut their teeth on spare ribs at Leong’s Tea House and Gee’s East Wind, when you mess with the original recipe, you mess with perfection.