Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drunken Chicken, Monsoon Style

Last weekend, we ate at Monsoon, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle. All the dishes we tried were great. But my absolute favorite was the most popular dish on their menu- drunken chicken. It was so good that it's all I've thought about this past week. I wondered if I could recreate it- or at least come slightly close.

Apparently, there are many versions of drunken chicken. At least this is what I discovered from my google searching. The traditional Chinese dish is marinated overnight in a rice wine sauce and served cold. There is also a version in which the chicken is coated in a beer batter. But I was craving the drunken chicken that I had at Monsoon. It was an american take on the Chinese version. The chicken was deep fried and served with a rice wine sauce.

To make the dish, I started with a traditional Chinese recipe that I found and changed it up a bit. I took the rice wine marinade (an internet source told me I could use dry sherry instead of rice wine) tinkered just a little bit, and reduced it into a yummy sauce. Then I fried the chicken pieces (the Chiense version calls for poaching the chicken) and drizzled the sauce on top.

My first try didn't work so well. But my second try did! The result was fantastic. Of course, it's not JUST like the restaurant (which I HIGHLY recommend) but it's close, at least according to my memory.

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups sherry
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp juice from one ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
Cooked rice
Green onions for garnish

1. First tackle the sauce so that the alcohol has enough time to burn off. To get the juice out of the ginger, peel the ginger and shred it. Take the shavings and squeeze them over a bowl. Fresh ginger is pretty juicy! Be careful not to stick to the 1.5 teaspoons of ginger and not use too much. Fresh ginger has a very potent flavor, which I learned the hard way.

2. Combine the sherry, water, soy sauce, ginger, salt and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to let it simmer. Simmer until the alcohol burns off- you have to keep tasting it to know for sure when it's done. It should eventually be sweet with a taste of ginger. The sauce won't really thicken but it tastes fantastic anyway! If I recall correctly, the restaurant's sauce wasn't very thick either.

3. Beat your eggs into a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and whisk until it all combines. The mixture should be thick enough to stick to the chicken.

4. Dip chicken pieces into the coating and drop them into a deep fryer (or you can pan fry them over the stove but you will have to turn them over halfway through).

4. When chicken pieces are golden brown, remove from fryer and let them cool on a stack of paper towels. Place the chicken on a dish and drizzle the sauce on top. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions!

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