I’m not sure if it was the recent passing of Chinese New Year or the prevalence of Chinese food on some of the movies and television shows I’ve been watching recently, but a craving for Chinese food and wanting to get back into the kitchen after the arrival of our daughter Violet led me scour the Internet for the perfect chicken dish.
Tyler Florence’s recipe for Sesame Chicken on the Food Network website seemed to have everything I was looking for, and besides the chicken the majority of the ingredients were already on hand in our pantry and refrigerator.
The best part of this dish is the sauce: a thick, sweet-and-sour sauce that coated the crunchy pieces of chicken and added a ton of flavour. The only part of the dish that disappointed was that a few of the early pieces of chicken got too dark on the outside… probably because I had no handle on the temperature of the oil I was frying the chicken pieces in. Eventually I cut down the cook time which seemed to remedy the last few batches.
Sesame Chicken (courtesy of Tyler Florence, adapted from Food Network)
3 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
and for the marinade/batter:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili sauce (recipe called for paste, but couldn’t find it at the grocery store)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
peanut oil, for deep-frying (we used canola oil)
plenty of toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Wash the chicken under cold running water, pat dry and trim off excess fat. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes and put into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add marinade/batter ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Let this sit and marinate while you get to the sauce.
3. Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over low heat, adding ginger and garlic to fry gently until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Mix remaining sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir well so that the cornstarch dissolves. Gently pour this mixture into the sauce pan with the fried garlic and ginger. Make sure you stir. Cook until thickened and then keep warm over low heat.
5. Fill another pan with enough oil to immerse chicken chunks. Fry the chicken in batches so that the pieces don’t stick together. At first I abided by the recipe’s 5-6 minutes, but because I think my oil may have been too hot, I ended up cutting that down to 4 toward the end. Pieces should be golden and crispy when they come out. I’d use a wire mesh strainer to get them out if you’ve got one.
6. Season with a little salt, and then add enough of the sauce to coat the chicken pieces. Serve over rice with plenty of sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Yum!