Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sesame Chicken 2x's Thanks to Asian Food Grocer

Once again, Foodbuzz Tastemaker's Program has rained down gifts from the food gods in the form of a $30 FREE coupon to Asian
FoodGrocer. Just like the Japanese, I was super-awesome-mega-ultimate-excited because I have never, ever made any type of Asian dish from scratch. Eating Asian food has never been a problem. Well, eating anything in general isn't a problem for me; except for Wing Wah candy. A co-worker of mine just brought back some of Hong Kong's popular candy called Wing Wah, or at least that's the part of the package in English making it now called Wing Wah. There are various flavors of plum and licorice and, um...tuna. Yes, candy made of tuna the fish. At first everyone in our lab thought it was made from tuna via the smell and tiny info Danielle brought back with her to the West. Then we did the smart thing and asked one of our researchers whom is from China. He told us is the candies are probably made from tuna meat, but it is flavored with beef as indicted by the symbol for cow on the wrapper.

So, is that still candy? In our actual lab of science, we scientist-type people have come to a consensus that it is indeed not at all a candy but a bouillon cube. And instead of sucking on it, we should make soup. Or, give it out to kids this Halloween as a really mean trick. Speaking of tricks, right now Wing Wah is spread out in front of a carved pumpkin on the reception desk in our building duping technologists and other scientists into thinking its delicious Halloween candy. MOOO HA HA HA!

Wing Wah candy was exotic and fun, but it's not part of the Asian Food Grocer grab bag. Until now I shied away form the big scary beast that is Asian cuisine telling myself without a wok and the right ingredients, me cooking Asian will never come to be. Sure, I dabbled in a semi-homemade curry or two but that was it! I made my mind up to respect the Eastern giant from afar. However serendipity had other plans. With a little generous push from Foodbuzz and Asian Food Grocer, I am able to take a prepared leap into my first Asian dish-Sesame Chicken.

(My Asian Food Grocer Bounty from left to right: mirin, Sriraci, rice flour, fish sauce, sesame oil, an *extra free* set of 10 tiny tea cups (in box), dry nori, curry power, and pickled ginger.)

The cardinal rule when beginning to write anything is, "Write what you know." I think that is true in some ways for taking on new cooking challenges as well. Sesame Chicken is one of my all-time, favorite Americanized-Chinese dishes so I set my sights on making a sesame chicken dish that could be passable as for reals take out. In addition to the online coupon for Asian Food Grocer, Foodbuzz is running a Tastemaker recipe contest for best recipe using the ingredients chosen from the promotion. Personally I don't think I am in the running. The recipe for my dish is not my own. I followed the Flawless Chicken Sesame recipe from I'm not going to start exploring with map! I can be adventurous but I'm not stupid.

I ended up making the dish twice because the yield of the sesame sauce was whhaaay more than then needed for the chicken portions. Not wanting to waste and thinking I could always use more practice, I fired up my fryer again and re-used the stored sauce.

(Batter Marinade of batch #1-Above, Battered batch #1-Middle, Battered batch #2-Below.)

The only difference really between attempt 1 and attempt 2 was rice flour vs. regular flour in the batter. I used rice flour first because, well, I just got it in and wanted to try a new flour! The outcome wasn't nearly as crispy as the batch made with regular flour, which came out much closer to the take-out we know and love. The other alterations to the recipe are:
  • In the Marinade: Marsala for the cooking wine.
  • In the Sauce: cider vinegar instead of rice or white vinegar & Sriracha for the chili paste.
  • For Frying: vegetable oil instead of peanut oil.
(Mmmm, Sesame Chicken 2X's, batch #2.)

Lastly, in the heat of the moment I forgot to toast my sesame seeds in attempt 2 rendering that element they were left out all together. The second dish was much better over all. In the first dish, the rice dish was flavored with ginger.

(Sorry about the blurry photos. Too anxious to eat to take a proper picture! Dish #1-Above, Dish #2-Below.)

The spice of the ginger and the spice of the sauce clashed instead of complimenting. The broccoli was a bit rubbery from over cooking plus the chicken was only semi-crispy and crunchy. In dish two, I used regular flour in the batter, cooked the rice in a combo of vegetable broth and white wine, and quickly braised the broccoli in water over a high boil.

Re-heating the sesame sauce to change it from a congelled, squat cylinder to a velvety smooth sauce was a bit tricky. First, before I started frying my chicken, I put the solidified sauce in a small sauce pan over medium heat. In between frying batches, I returned to the sauce and with a whisk, vigorously stirred the sauce as it bubbles. At the point where the sauce is more liquid than solid, I gradually began adding hot water and lowered the heat. I added approximately 1/3 cup of hot water incrementally to the sauce whisking all the time. The method really seemed to work, and by the time the broccoli was up and I pulled the warming chicken out of the oven, my sauce reached the proper coating consistency.

Thanks one last time to the folks at both Foodbuzz and Asian Food Grocer for making this possible.


doggybloggy said...

good job with the goods! the chicken looks 'authentic' LOL

redkathy said...

Oh nice. Now I don't feel like I'm the ONLY person who never prepared an Asian dish. You did a superb job. The chicken looks fab... Will you send me some please :)

Anonymous said...

The sesame chicken looks perfectly delicious, love it!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

This looks just like something you would get in a fancy Asian restaurant! Well done and how fun!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I was reluctant to make Asian dishes for the longest time, and then suddenly, I made a few, gathered all of the required ingredients, and now, I can throw something together easily! You'll get the hang of it! This sounds delicious!

Cookin' Canuck said...

I love cooking with Asian ingredients - probably because I'm such a salt lover. Your versions of sesame chicken look delicious. I'll think I'll pass on the tuna fish candies, though.

pegasuslegend said...

very delicious looking chicken I have never made this dish myself, but love sesame chicken thank you! :)

The Duo Dishes said...

So fun to see what people picked up with their AFG discount. You did a nice, classic dish, and it looks awesome.

Miranda said...

This looks fantastic!

I signed up for tastemakers program, but I am not getting the products or notices. Is there somehting I should do?

lululu said...

yummmmmmmmmmmm....i simply love how sticky, orangy and flavorful those wings look!

Tamar1973 said...

You can buy toasted sesame seeds, but I some might consider that cheating! LOL!
If Asian cooking is a stretch for you, I'd say that French (or most European cooking) is a stretch for me.

Jessie said...

that looks great and very authentic!

My Little Space said...

The sesame chicken looks so inviting! Is that for me? Thanks.

Divina Pe said...

I almost missed this post. Wow, beautiful sesame chicken. I can't imagine they must be full of flavor. Thanks for sharing this.

A Table For Two said...

damn! those fried chicken looks goood!!!!

larry said...

Thanks for using our products, and our coupon!

larry said...

From :)

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