Although I didn’t eat a lot of it in college, I’ve definitely made it up for lost time when it comes to my consumption of Chinese food. As much as I love the ease of ordering take-out, I’ve been trying to tackle some of my favorite menu items one at a time. So far, I’ve cooked up sweet and sour chicken, cashew chicken and General Tso’s Chicken, and I’ve loved each rendition. Next on my list was sesame chicken, but I was surprised that there weren’t more recipes available when I did some researching online. I absolutely adored the General Tso’s recipe I made last year, specifically how crunchy the fried chicken was and how the overarching flavors carried through all of the recipe components. I decided to use that recipe as a template, while changing up the flavors to make a sesame version. The end result was fabulous – thick-coated, crunchy chicken tossed a sesame-flavored sauce that had just the right amount of sweetness. Another homemade take-out success!
This recipe isn’t exactly a 30-minute meal – it takes a little bit of time and preparation, but if you have a few extra minutes, this sesame chicken is 100% worth it. I love how crunchy the chicken is and that the sauce thickens beautifully to coat the chicken. It’s not too thin, but not gloopy either; just right. Toss the chicken on a bed of white rice and top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions, and you’ll be in dinner heaven. Trust me, you’ll want to hoard the leftovers (if there are any!) all to yourself.
I have a long list of take-out favorites that I can’t wait to recreate; what are some of your favorites?
One year ago: Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Sesame Chicken - Marinated, battered and fried, tossed in a sweet sesame sauce and served over white rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
For the Marinade:
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup water
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chili paste (can substitute a couple pinches of red pepper flakes)
For Coating & Frying:
3 egg whites
1½ cups cornstarch
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Sesame seeds, to garnish
Scallions, sliced, to garnish
1. To make the marinade, whisk the chicken stock, water, soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch and sesame oil in a bowl. Of this mixture, place 6 tablespoons into a zip lock storage bag and add the chicken; seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade in the bowl.
2. While the chicken is chilling in the marinade, heat the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic, ginger and chile paste until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add 2 cups of the reserved marinade to the skillet and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture has become a darker brown and thickened. Remove from the heat and cover.
3. To prepare the chicken for coating and frying, whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy; set aside. Combine the cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining marinade in a second shallow dish; mix using a fork until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and from the marinade. Pat the marinated chicken dry with paper towels.
5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees.
6. While the oil is heating, prepare the chicken for frying. Toss half the chicken into the foamy egg whites until well coated, then dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
7. Fry half the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Return the oil to 350 degrees. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
8. Warm the sauce over medium heat until simmering. Turn off the heat and add the fried chicken pieces. Toss to coat and serve, sprinkling with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.