Sesame Chicken: A Delicious and Easy Recipe Guide

Sesame chicken is a popular dish in Chinese-American cuisine, known for its crispy texture, savory sauce, and the delightful crunch of sesame seeds. This dish is a favorite for many, often found in restaurants and enjoyed as a takeout staple. But did you know you can make this delicious meal at home? In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to make the perfect sesame chicken, from ingredients to instructions, and some tips to make it truly special.

What is Sesame Chicken?

Sesame chicken is a dish that typically consists of bite-sized pieces of chicken that are battered and deep-fried until crispy, then tossed in a flavorful sauce made with soy sauce, honey, garlic, and sesame oil. The dish is finished with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and sometimes garnished with green onions. It’s a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and nutty flavors that makes it irresistible.

Ingredients for Sesame Chicken

Ingredients for Sesame Chicken

To make sesame chicken, you will need the following ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  • Chicken Breasts: 1 pound, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Cornstarch: 1 cup, for coating
  • Eggs: 2, beaten
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper: 1 teaspoon
  • Vegetable Oil: For frying

For the Sauce:

  • Soy Sauce: 1/4 cup
  • Honey: 1/4 cup
  • Brown Sugar: 2 tablespoons
  • Rice Vinegar: 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
  • Ginger: 1 teaspoon, minced
  • Cornstarch: 1 tablespoon, mixed with 2 tablespoons of water (slurry)
  • Water: 1/4 cup

For Garnish:

  • Toasted Sesame Seeds: 2 tablespoons
  • Green Onions: 2, sliced

Instructions for Making Sesame Chicken

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

  1. Cut the Chicken: Start by cutting the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Aim for uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.
  2. Season the Chicken: In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper, ensuring each piece is evenly seasoned.
  3. Coat the Chicken: Set up a breading station with one bowl of beaten eggs and another bowl of cornstarch. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg, then coat it with cornstarch. Shake off any excess.

Step 2: Fry the Chicken

  1. Heat the Oil: In a large skillet or deep fryer, heat the vegetable oil to 350°F (175°C). Make sure there is enough oil to fully submerge the chicken pieces.
  2. Fry the Chicken: Fry the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook each batch for about 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.

Step 3: Make the Sauce

  1. Mix the Sauce Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and minced ginger.
  2. Cook the Sauce: In a large pan over medium heat, pour in the sauce mixture and bring it to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Add the Cornstarch Slurry: To thicken the sauce further, add the cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water). Stir well until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

Step 4: Combine and Serve

  1. Toss the Chicken: Add the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat each piece thoroughly with the sauce.
  2. Garnish: Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions over the top.
  3. Serve: Serve the sesame chicken hot, ideally over a bed of steamed white rice or alongside your favorite vegetables.

Tips for the Best Sesame Chicken

Choosing the Right Chicken

For the best texture, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They are easy to cut into uniform pieces and cook quickly. However, if you prefer a more tender and juicy bite, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great alternative.

Perfecting the Coating

The combination of egg and cornstarch gives the chicken its crispy exterior. Make sure each piece is well-coated with cornstarch before frying. This helps achieve that desirable crunch.

Getting the Sauce Just Right

Balancing the sweet and savory elements in the sauce is key. Taste the sauce before adding the chicken, and adjust the sweetness or saltiness as needed. If you prefer a spicier kick, add a teaspoon of chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the sesame seeds enhances their nutty flavor. Simply heat a dry skillet over medium heat, add the sesame seeds, and stir frequently until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them.

Serving Suggestions

Sesame chicken pairs wonderfully with steamed jasmine rice or fried rice. For a balanced meal, serve it with stir-fried or steamed vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, or snow peas.

Variations of Sesame Chicken

Spicy Sesame Chicken

For a spicy twist, add chili paste or Sriracha to the sauce. Adjust the amount based on your heat tolerance. You can also garnish with sliced red chilies for an extra kick.

Honey Sesame Chicken

If you prefer a sweeter version, increase the amount of honey in the sauce. This variation highlights the sweet and sticky aspects of the dish, making it even more indulgent.

Baked Sesame Chicken

For a healthier option, bake the chicken instead of frying it. Coat the chicken pieces with the egg and cornstarch mixture, place them on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden and crispy.

Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are more than just a garnish; they are packed with nutrients and offer several health benefits:

  • Rich in Healthy Fats: Sesame seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health.
  • High in Protein: They are a good source of plant-based protein, providing essential amino acids.
  • Loaded with Antioxidants: Sesame seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Good Source of Minerals: They are high in essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are important for bone health and immune function.

History of Sesame Chicken

Sesame chicken, as enjoyed in many parts of the world today, is a creation that has evolved over time, particularly within Chinese-American cuisine. The dish is believed to have roots in traditional Chinese cooking, where ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, and ginger are commonly used. The adaptation of sesame chicken in American Chinese cuisine has led to a sweeter, more sauce-heavy version, appealing to the Western palate.

Traditional Chinese Influence

In traditional Chinese cooking, chicken dishes often incorporate soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. The concept of coating and frying meat, then tossing it in a flavorful sauce, is a technique used in various Chinese dishes.

Evolution in America

In America, Chinese immigrants adapted their cooking to suit available ingredients and local tastes. Sesame chicken emerged as a popular dish in Chinese restaurants, particularly in the late 20th century. Its sweet, savory, and slightly tangy sauce made it a favorite among diners, contributing to its enduring popularity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken?

While both dishes are popular in Chinese-American cuisine, sesame chicken is typically sweeter and garnished with sesame seeds, whereas General Tso’s chicken has a spicier, tangier sauce and is often garnished with green onions or dried chili peppers.

Can I make sesame chicken ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the chicken and sauce ahead of time. Store them separately in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce, then toss the chicken in the sauce to coat.

Is sesame chicken gluten-free?

To make sesame chicken gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. Ensure all other ingredients, such as cornstarch and rice vinegar, are gluten-free as well.

Can I use other types of meat for this recipe?

Yes, you can substitute chicken with other meats such as beef, pork, or shrimp. Adjust cooking times accordingly to ensure the meat is cooked through.

How do I store and reheat leftovers?

Store leftover sesame chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm it in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of water or chicken broth to loosen the sauce. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave until heated through.

Conclusion

Sesame chicken is a beloved dish that brings together the best of sweet and savory flavors with a delightful crunch. Whether you’re making it for a family dinner or a special occasion, this guide provides everything you need to create a delicious and authentic sesame chicken at home. From choosing the right ingredients to mastering the sauce, these tips and instructions will ensure your dish is a hit. Enjoy the process of cooking and savor the flavors of this classic Chinese-American favorite!

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