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Sesame Chicken: A Delicious Chinese-American Favorite

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Sesame chicken is a beloved Chinese-American dish known for its crispy texture, sweet and savory sauce, and nutty sesame flavor. This recipe combines tender pieces of chicken coated in a light batter, fried until golden brown, and then tossed in a sticky sauce infused with sesame seeds. It’s a popular choice on many Chinese restaurant menus and can be easily recreated at home with this simple and flavorful recipe. Let’s dive into how you can make sesame chicken that rivals your favorite takeout.

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 500g (about 1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (for thickening)

For Garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Cooked white or brown rice, for serving

Instructions

1. Prepare the Chicken
  1. Coat Chicken: In a bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, salt, and black pepper. Toss chicken cubes in the dry mixture until evenly coated.
  2. Heat Oil: In a large skillet or wok, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot (about 350°F or 175°C).
  3. Fry Chicken: Working in batches, carefully add coated chicken pieces to the hot oil. Fry for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is golden and cooked through. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken batches.
2. Make the Sauce
  1. Combine Ingredients: In a small saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, and minced ginger.
  2. Thicken Sauce: Bring the sauce mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Gradually pour in the cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water), stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
3. Toss the Chicken in Sauce
  1. Coat Chicken: In a large bowl, toss fried chicken pieces with the prepared sesame sauce until evenly coated.
4. Serve Sesame Chicken
  1. Garnish: Transfer sesame chicken to a serving platter. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions on top for garnish.
  2. Serve Hot: Serve immediately over steamed white or brown rice. Enjoy the crispy texture of the chicken coated in a sweet and savory sesame sauce, complemented by the nutty flavor of sesame seeds.

Tips for Success

  • Chicken Preparation: Cut the chicken into uniform cubes for even frying and coating with the sauce.
  • Oil Temperature: Maintain the oil temperature around 350°F (175°C) to ensure crispy chicken without being greasy.
  • Sauce Consistency: Adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding more or less cornstarch slurry, depending on your preference.
  • Toasting Sesame Seeds: Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

Variations

  • Spicy Sesame Chicken: Add a teaspoon of chili paste or sriracha sauce to the sauce for a spicy kick.
  • Healthier Option: Bake or air-fry the chicken instead of deep-frying for a lighter version.
  • Vegetarian Alternative: Substitute chicken with tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian sesame tofu dish.

Conclusion

Sesame chicken is a classic Chinese-American dish that combines crispy fried chicken with a flavorful sesame sauce, creating a delightful balance of textures and flavors. By following this recipe, you can recreate the popular restaurant favorite at home, perfect for a delicious dinner or special occasion. Serve sesame chicken over steamed rice, garnished with sesame seeds and green onions, for a complete and satisfying meal that will impress your family and friends. Enjoy the crispy goodness and rich sesame flavor of this homemade sesame chicken dish!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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