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Sesame Chicken

This is US Style Chinese sesame chicken! You’re going to love it. 

One of my must order items at Chinese restaurants and takeaways while growing up in California was sesame chicken.

It’s probably one of the first recipes I learned to cook at home too. Over the years I have changed the recipe but this is still pretty close to how I have made it since I was about 12. If you want the US Chinese food restaurant experience at home, this sesame chicken recipe is one you’ve got to try.

Sesame chicken

US style Chinese sesame chicken. This is one you have to try!

About this recipe…

I developed this sesame chicken as a one pot (or one wok) recipe. The wok is used to fry the chicken and also finish off the sesame chicken just before serving. 

Don’t waste that oil though! You can use it more than once. After frying the chicken I strain it into another container for future use.

Of course, if you have a deep fat fryer that will work too. 

Frying the battered chicken…

If frying the battered chicken in a wok, simply fill your wok about one third full with oil and bring the oil up to 175c/350f. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, simply place a chop stick in the oil. If you see loads of bubbles around it, your oil should be fine.

Start by adding just a few pieces of your battered chicken to ensure the temperature is right. The chicken should sizzle and fry nicely without turning dark too quickly. 

Remember, it is best to fry the chicken for this sesame chicken in batches. Add too much at one time and the temperature of the oil will cool down and your chicken will be soggy and oily instead of crispy.

Planning ahead…

There are quite a lot of ingredients in this sesame chicken. So it’s a good idea to get them all prepared before starting.

This can be done a couple of days ahead of cooking. Even the initial frying of the chicken can be done a day or so before serving. 

It’s best to fry the chicken just before finishing the sesame chicken but if needs must, fry it and take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before finishing off in the wok.

The chicken will heat up quickly in the hot wok. 

Special ingredients…

Most of the ingredients required for sesame chicken are easily found at any supermarket. Chinese chicken powder isn’t but it really isn’t necessary.

Chinese chicken powder usually comes in the form of a stock cube and is available at Chinese and other Asian grocers. It does contain MSG which many people don’t like using.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. It gives US style sesame chicken the flavour you would expect at a good Chinese takeaway. If you do decide to leave it out, I promise you will still love this sesame chicken recipe. 

Step by step

Ingredients for sesame chicken

It’s always a good idea to get your ingredients all together before starting.

Marinade for sesame chicken

Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

 
Marinating chicken

Place the chicken in the marinade and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

 

flour and chicken for frying

Dust the chicken with the flour mixture and be sure to shake off any excess flour. Then fry as described below. 

 

Fried chicken

Transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

frying sesame chicken

Fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions for about a minute. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients. This can be done ahead of frying the chicken or after. Add the fried chicken to the sauce.

sesame chicken

Stir it all up to combine and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. 

Sesame chicken US style

To good not to pile high! I like to add chopped spring onions (scallions) to garnish. 

Homemade sesame chicken

Dig in!

If you like this sesame chicken recipe, you might like to try some of these too…

Chicken 64
Chicken Rendang
Beef Rendang
Easy Chicken Korma

 

Yield: 4

Sesame Chicken

sesame chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 ¼ lb) skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
  • Oil for deep frying
  • MARINADE INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
  • FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS
  • 130g (1 cup) cornflour (corn starch)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • FOR THE SAUCE
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese chicken powder (OPTIONAL) see note below
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl until think and smooth and then add the chicken pieces. Mix well to combine and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours. The longer the better.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together on a large plate and set aside.
  3. When ready to fry the chicken, heat about 750ml (3 cups) of oil in your wok or simply fill it 1/3 full. No more! Bring to 175c/350f. If you don't have an oil thermometer, your oil is hot enough when a piece of the bread sizzles immediately on contact.
  4. Now dredge the chicken pieces in the prepared cornflour (corn starch) mixture and shake any excess off. Cooking in batches, cook the chicken until crispy in the hot oil. About 2 – 3 minutes will be enough. Transfer to paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Set aside.
  5. To make the sauce, Discard or transfer the oil to a container to use when you fry next. Heat your wok over high heat until hot enough to dissolve a bead of water immediately on contact. Stir in the oil and swirl it around to coat the surface of the wok and then add the chopped garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions).
  6. Fry for about 30 seconds and the stir in the soy sauce and Chinese rice wine.
    Reduce the heat to medium and then while simmering add the honey and brown sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved into the sauce.
  7. Combine the vinegar and cornflour (corn starch) in a small bowl until you have a milking slurry and stir this into the sauce to thick and give the sauce its characteristic shine. Stir in the sesame oil and Chinese chicken powder if using.
  8. Add the fried chicken pieces to coat with the sauce. Garnish with spring onions (scallions) and serve over white rice.

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