Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nine Dragons Restaurant - Honey Sesame Chicken

Well, a ton of stuff has been going on this summer which delayed my blogging. But, now I am really ready to commit to this blog. I hope to learn a lot, and hope that it is an enjoyable place for people to visit.

Last night I looked in my refrigerator and decided I needed to cook the chicken breasts that I had defrosted earlier.

While looking in my "Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs" cookbook, I immediately decided on the Honey Sesame Chicken recipe. This dish is served at the Nine Dragons Restaurant in the China pavilion in EPCOT. Although I have never tasted this dish at Walt Disney World, I have had similar entrees at other Chinese restaurants and I was pretty sure it would be delicious (if done correctly).

The restaurant currently charges $18.98 for this entree... and I was certain I could create a replica for much less. In fact, I had many of the ingredients in my pantry or refrigerator already. I only needed to buy some white wine.

I was a little wary of the deep frying aspect of the recipe (I have never deep-fried in my life!), but the individual steps seemed pretty simple.

Here is a picture of the ingredients:

I also added in my Mike Wazowski mug because I think it is cute :)

My first step was to cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch chunks and then marinate them. The proper technique would have been to mix the marinade first and then add to the chicken, but for whatever reason I just dumped the marinade ingredients into the chicken bowl directly. I doubt it made any difference at all.

First, the pepper:

Then salt:

Then some water:

And some white wine:

Some wine for the chef as well....

Then some sesame oil and sugar to taste (As I was adding directly to the raw chicken, of course I couldn't taste. I probably added a tablespoon or so and that was fine):

I gave this a stir and then put it in the refrigerator. Easy so far.

Now, on to the batter. Combine flour, cornstarch and baking powder. (My camera is slowly dying and some of the pictures are taking on a purple hue. Please try to ignore. A new camera is on the way):

Then add an egg white, water and oil.

Then add a pinch of salt and whisk it up. Notice how bubbly it gets from the baking powder?


Set this aside and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but it is pretty easy. Just mixing some stuff and then putting it aside.

Next, the Honey Sauce. In another bowl, I combined honey:

...and sugar (I can't wait for that new camera!):

...and ketchup. Yes. Ketchup! A weird ingredient for this, but I just followed directions....

Next, some white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt:

Ok. Now we get down to business. Frying. Yikes. I started to heat up my oil to 320 degrees. In my other pan I started to toast some sesame seeds over medium heat and I dumped my drained chicken into the bowl of batter.

When the oil was up to temperature, I carefully placed the chicken pieces into the pan. I was really happy with the way the batter puffed up and took on a golden color.

I didn't want to crowd the pot (and therefore lower the temperature of the oil), so I cooked the chicken in two batches. When I took the cooked pieces of chicken out of the pot, I drained them on a plate lined with paper towels.

Meanwhile, I heated up the honey sauce in another pan. The ketchup seemed like an odd ingredient, but it did give the sauce a nice color without having to add a food dye.

When the chicken was all done, I put it in the pot with the heated Honey Sauce, and mixed it all around with a spatula. Then, I sprinkled on the toasted sesame seeds.

Here is the finished dish. I served it with steamed broccoli and brown rice.

Verdict: It was REALLY delicious. My boyfriend said it was one of the best Chinese dishes he had ever had, including what he had ordered in restaurants. I have to say that the batter was light and puffy... the chicken was cooked just right... and it didn't taste greasy at all. A bit sweet, but you have to expect that from Honey Chicken. Unfortunately my side dishes were kind of an afterthought, because I was worried about the chicken... but they were ok.

The recipe wasn't that difficult... and if I could have this result from my first attempt at deep frying, I'm sure anyone could. Next time I'm at EPCOT, I will want to try out the real deal and see if I was close.... but I am very happy with this result.

If anyone wants the actual recipe for this dish, just let me know and I will email it to you.
If you want to try the original at Epcot, contact me at http://www.kingdomplanners.com/ and we will help you plan a magical vacation!