In Mid October, Chad had to go to the UCF campus to take a final to complete his Master’s. Evan and I took the opportunity to go with him to visit Disney and Legoland. While waiting on Chad to finish with his test, Evan and I went to Epcot. I am so happy I got to see Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival again before we leave Florida. Once the park opened, we went straight to visit Mickey since Evan is too young to ride most of the rides. Evan has never been close any characters, so I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be.
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He absolutely loved them! Mickey was his favorite. He saw all of them as oversized stuffed animals and kept giving them hugs and kisses. He was not very happy when we had to move on and kept trying to run back to them. We ended up buying him a Mickey stuffed animal later at Downtown Disney and he now carries it with him around the house.
We rode the The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Evan took a quick catnap in the stroller before the World Showcase opened at 11. I made it halfway through the park to the Japan Pavilion before Evan woke from his nap so we sampled the Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll first for lunch.
The back area of the park was fairly empty since most of the crowd stopped at the first few booths. The Japan Booth offered the Spicy Hand Roll (Tuna and Salmon with Chili Pepper, Soy Sauce, and Sesame Oil topped with Kazan Volcano Sauce), California Roll (Avocado, Cucumber, Crab, Mayonnaise, and Smelt Roe rolled in Sushi Rice and Seaweed), Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll (Marinated White Meat Chicken with Sushi Rice topped with Teriyaki Sauce), Youki Tofu (topped with Miso Sauce and Edamame served with Grilled Vegetables), Sake (Junmai Ginjo Yuki “Snow”), Sapporo Draft Beer, and Green Tea Colada.
Evan and I both enjoyed the Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll. My only complaint is the roll was soaked in a bit too much teriyaki sauce for my liking. Evan didn’t like the last couple of bites with the extra wrapping of Nori- no worries, just more for me. Overall, the chicken was tender and the teriyaki sauce had just the right amount of sweetness. This was one of my favorites at the festival.
Evan fell asleep again later in the day after Chad joined us. Chad pushed him around in the stroller while I went back to the Japan Pavilion to shop (my favorite place in Epcot). Mitsukoshi Department Store has large assortment of souvenirs from hair accessories and clothing to toys. My favorite section is in the back of the store- the dishware! I spent so much time looking at all the beautiful plates, bowls, and tea sets. It was definitely hard to narrow down my purchases to a couple of items. The plate in my Orange Chiffon Cupcakes post was one of my souvenirs.
After the Japan Booth, we visited the Cheese Booth. I tried the Cheese Fondue from the booth when we visited in 2011. I am not sure if I just got a bad batch, but I was definitely not a fan. It was nearly cold and just did not have a good consistency. This year, the Cheese Booth offered Almond-crusted Blue Cheese Souffle with Fig Jam, Artisan Cheese Selection (Beecher’s Flagship Reserve served with Honey, La Bonne Vie Triple Creme Brie with Apricot Jam, Wyngaard Goats Gouda with Craisin Bread, and many wines from Once Upon A Vine: The Big Bad Red Blend, The Lost Slipper Sauvignon Blanc, The Fairest Chardonnay, and A Charming Pinot.
Evan and I got the Artisan Cheese Selection. Definitely an improvement from the cheese fondue a couple of years ago. The only one Evan didn’t care for was the Brie. His favorite was the Wyngaard Goats Gouda with the Craisin Bread. My favorite was the Beecher’s Flagship Reserve with Honey.
I created a version of the Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll. It took a couple of test runs, but I am happy with the final result. I got a sushi kit from Amazon to help me in my endeavors. I added a little carrot to my rolls. I also used chicken thighs instead of breasts, because I personally prefer chicken thighs for Teriyaki Chicken. The festival version uses white meat.
I made the sushi rice first. Sumeshi (vinegared sushi rice) is created by combining steamed short grain rice with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. The rice vinegar mixture is gently folded in as the rice cools. I used the Hangiri that came in my sushi kit to mix the rice. A Hangiri (Handai, Sushi Oke) is a flat wooden tub used for mixing and cooling the rice. If you don’t have one, use a large 9×13 inch casserole so the rice is in a layer no more than about 2 inches deep. I covered the rice with a damp cloth and set aside while I prepared the teriyaki chicken.
I’ve only attempted sushi once before a couple of years ago and it was barely passable, so I was a little nervous about recreating these. The first time I tried making the hand rolls, I added too much rice to the layers and they turned out huge, about 4 inches in diameter. Delicious, but way too big. I attempted again with less rice and am happy with the results. I cut one sheet of nori (seaweed, laver) into thin strips and place one strip on each side of the sushi mat (makisu), about the width of a full nori sheet, that I wrapped in plastic for easy cleaning. With this roll, the rice is on the outside, so it can turn into a huge mess without the plastic barrier. I added a thin layer of rice to cover half of the nori strips, topped it with a sheet of nori (I trimmed 1/4 off of the top of the sheet first), covered with a thinner layer of rice, then a strip of teriyaki chicken slices and carrots. With the help of the sushi mat, I wrapped the roll up tightly, then cut the roll in half diagonally to serve with more teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds.
Nori is a thin seaweed often used for rolling sushi. It is sometimes called laver. I have been able to find it at many supermarkets in the Asian food section or at Asian Food Markets. It is also available on Amazon: Nori.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine. I use hon-mirin (true mirin) in recipes calling for mirin and have been able to find it in Asian food markets and Whole Foods. Many grocery stores have aji-mirin, but be sure to check the ingredient list for additives. Other types of mirin are shio-mirin (includes salt) and shin-mirin (very little alcohol).
Teriyaki Chicken Hand Rolls
Teriyaki Chicken Hand Rolls
- 3 cups Japanese short grain rice
- 2 tablespoons Sake
- 1 (6 inch, 15 cm) piece of kombu
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup mirin Japanese sweet rice wine
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 15 nori sheets
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Place the rice in a large bowl and fill with cold water. Stir the rice to remove any particles. Pour off water and continue to add more cold water until the water runs clear.
- To use rice cooker, add the rice to the rice cooker bowl. Pour in 3 cups water. Remove 2 tablespoons water and add 2 tablespoons sake. Add the piece of kombu. Let sit for 30 minutes before turning on rice cooker. If your rice cooker has a sushi setting, use it.
- If you do not have a rice cooker, place ingredients above in a heavy saucepan and let sit for 30 minutes. Cover the saucepan and place over medium high heat to bring to a boil. Immediately when it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook until water has dissolved and the rice begins to crackle. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
- While the rice cooks, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Microwave for a minute and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Remove the kombu from the cooked rice and pour the rice into Hangiri (large wooden tub) or a large casserole dish. Gently sprinkle the rice vinegar mixture over the rice and carefully fold the rice with a fan directed at the dish on a low setting or fanning the mixture with a fan or piece of cardboard with your other hand. Continue to fold until the rice cools. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside. Do not refrigerate.
- To make the teriyaki sauce, heat mirin in a small saucepan over low heat. Once heated, stir in soy sauce and sugar. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Season chicken on each side with salt and pepper. If using chicken thighs, spread out the thighs before seasoning.
- In a large pan, drizzle oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the chicken and cook until browned on each side and almost cooked through. Pour in 1/4 cup of the teriyaki sauce and cook for another minute per side to coat the chicken.
- Remove from heat and let chicken sit for 10 minutes before thinly slicing.
- Cover Makisu (sushi mat) with plastic wrap. Cut one sheet of nori into 1 inch wide strips. Place one strip on each side of the prepared sushi mat, about the length apart as a second piece of nori. Cover the strips halfway with a thin layer of sumeshi (sushi rice).
- Cut about 1/4 off the top of another piece of nori. Place this piece on top of the rice, evenly matched with the section closest to you. It will be a little shorter at the top than the thin strips of nori. Cover 3/4 of this piece of nori with a thin layer of rice, thinner than the previous layer. Near you, place a thin layer of sliced chicken and carrots across the rice.
- Use the sushi mat to tightly roll up the hand roll. Cut in half diagonally, place on serving tray, and top with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately.