I grew up eating Chinese food every Saturday night. I'd say that it may have been my first solid food, but I think I discovered cheese first.
In our small downtown, there was (and still is) a family owned restaurant called "Charlie's Chinese". They were never very crowded. And as a family of six trying to eat out on a Saturday night, that was pretty important.
Charlie and his wife, Mary, treated us like family. They gave us the best table, right in the center of the restaurant. They knew our drink orders by heart. They brought out special dishes or desserts for us to try that weren't even on the menu. One time, for a birthday celebration, they brought a large bowl of some type of punch that went in the middle of the table with six long straws to drink out of it. Strange, but certainly memorable.
I still love Chinese food, although I no longer have a weekly date with an egg roll. As much as I love it though, I have very seldom tried to make Chinese food at home because it always seems to disappoint.
But this week, feeling somewhat adventurous, I attempted to make sesame chicken. I came across a recipe that seemed pretty authentic. I even purchased strange looking sauces and oils from the "international foods" aisle at the grocery store. I pulled the long-neglected soy sauce out of the refrigerator.
And, I am happy to report, that I consider it a cooking victory! The meal was delicious and it really tasted like Chinese food!
Here's the recipe, so you can try it out:
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
5 tsp. honey
1 1/4 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tbsp. oil (canola, olive, vegetable)
2 green onions, white parts thinly sliced and green tops reserved
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. chili paste
1 small head broccoli (or 1 bag frozen), cut into florets, steamed until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (toast them in a skillet on the stove for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring often)
hot cooked rice
1-In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 Tbsp. of the soy sauce, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 2 tsp. honey. Add chicken, toss to coat, marinate 20 minutes. Discard marinade.
2-In a large skillet heat 2 tsp. of oil over medium high heat. Cook half the chicken at a time for 6 minutes until cooked through, truning once or twice. Transfer chicken to serving place and cook remaining chicken in 2 more tsp. oil. Transfer chicken to serving plate.
3-In the same skillet, heat remaining 2 tsp. oil. Add white parts of onion, ginger, and garlic. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, remaining soy sauce, remaining honey, cornstarch, vinegar, and chili paste. Add sauce to skillet. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until thickened and dark in color. Stir in remaining 1 tsp. sesame oil.
4-Serve chicken and sauce over rice and broccoli. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion tops.