September 23, 2021

Sesame Chicken

This is another of that sort of recipe for which I assume there are countless versions.  The version below comes from an instant pot cookbook with the author credit going to a recipe website of, yes, 6 sisters, and which is the usual “we’re not professionally-trained but we know what our families like” with a long drawn-out story before the recipe to ensure your eyeballs see the ads on which the website relies.

But this isn’t actually an instant pot recipe, and it is, to some extent, still a “recipe in progress,” as there are some tweaks I have in mind for next time.

Ingredients

3 tbsp cornstarch

salt & pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp sesame oil

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

pinch red pepper flakes

6 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Mix 2 tbsp of the cornstarch with the salt & pepper in a gallon-size resealable bag, add the chicken pieces, seal, and shake until the chicken is coated with the cornstarch.  Heat 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil in an extra-large skillet, and saute the chicken, half at a time, until browned.  Notes:  the object is to get a bit of a crispy coating on the chicken, and the recipe calls for adding more cornstarch if necessary to ensure the chicken is completely coated.  But 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil isn’t enough to accomplish this, rather than just getting sauteed chicken, and trying to fry up chicken in the instant pot is even more of a fail.  This time around I added a bit of extra canola oil to the sesame oil; I will probably play around with this some more later and decide whether it is worth it to get the coating right or not.

2. Combine the soy sauce, ketchup, red pepper flakes, honey, and remaining cornstarch and sesame oil.  Add to the skillet, scrape up browned bits, and cook ’til thickened.  Serve with broccoli florets (I cook separately in a microwave steamer bag) and rice, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  More notes:  since the original recipe is for the instant pot, you need the full cup+ of sauce to get the pot to come to pressure.  Of course, that’s not necessary on the stovetop, so this can be adjusted to preference, and it’s a very sweet sauce so a little goes a long way.  The original recipe also calls for making a slurry with the last tbsp of cornstarch and 3 tbsp of water, after the chicken is cooked in the IP, but that’s not necessary, and what I’ve typed here is how I intended to make it next time.  The sauce also came out fairly thick the first time because the cornstarch that was supposed to fry up as a coating for the chicken, didn’t, and thickened the sauce instead.  I’m also not sure that it matters to add the last bit of sesame oil at the end rather than when sauteing/frying up the chicken.  

Some more notes:  the recipe also calls for either chicken thighs or chicken breasts but I am really pro-chicken thighs these days, what with the easy availability of deboned chicken thighs, even though cutting up chicken breasts is way faster.  But I do have another recipe for mock-deep-fried chicken breast that calls for a coating chicken pieces in egg and 1/4 cup flour, then browning in a mere 2 tbsp of oil, half at a time, so that might be a worthwhile follow-up mix-and-match.

Also, I played around with reducing the amount of honey and replacing some with Splenda-type artificial sweetener, but I’m not quite sure how satisfied I am with that substitution, so that’ll require some more experimentation.  But considering that the family was very impressed with this meal, it’s definitely in the rotation.

sesame chicken

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