Sesame Chicken with Ginger and Scallion


I experimented with refining this recipe after reviewing three different versions – the main basis being Chef Tyler Florence’s dish featured on Food Network. With all due respect, Tyler’s has way too much sodium and sugar, and is overpowered by the sesame oil in the sauce. This version finds a better balance for my taste – the rice vinegar and Chinese 5-spice adds a nice contrasting bite. My family cannot tolerate the spicy chilis that I love, so you’ll see those reserved here. Feel free to add them or hot Vietnamese chili sambal paste to the sauce in the last step if you need more heat.

This dish is truly Chinese-American. You will not see it featured in traditional Asian cookbooks. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

30 oz. chicken breast (about 5 single fillets)
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
3 scallions, washed, trimmed and thin sliced

Hot, cooked white rice for serving

4 cups peanut oil for frying

Marinade-
1 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbs. rice vinegar
3 tbs. teriyaki sauce
3 tbs. soy sauce

Sauce-
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs. rice vinegar
3 tbs. corn starch
1 tbs. honey
2 tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

About three hours before dinner, thaw the chicken breasts if frozen, trim fat and cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside in covered mixing bowl. Combine the liquid marinade ingredients, the chili flakes, white pepper, Chinese 5-spice powder and salt. Mix well with chicken pieces and let stand refrigerated for at least two hours. At the third hour, combine the flour, corn starch and baking powder and mix with chicken until evenly coated. Reserve the chicken on your counter so it warms up to room temperature. This is essential so the meat doesn’t splatter when it hits the wok.

Prepare the cut vegetables and set aside. Prepare the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Preheat your oven at 300 degrees and reserve a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.

When ready, heat a 14″ wok until blistering hot on your stovetop or outdoor grill. A drop of cold water should vaporize on contact when brought up to proper temperature. Slowly pour in the peanut oil – adding it to the sides of the wok so it doesn’t splatter. Cook the chicken in two batches, blot on paper towel and keep hot on the cookie sheet in the oven. (This ensures it will stay crisp when added to the sauce.)

Pour off all but two tbs. of the peanut oil. Place the wok back on the heat and quickly stir-fry the minced ginger and garlic for about thirty seconds. Do not let it scorch! Quickly add the chopped white onion and bell pepper and stir-fry until seared – about a minute.

Next, stir the sauce mixture in the mixing bowl to ensure the corn starch is dissolved. Slowly add the sauce mixture to the wok and stir-fry until it achieves a rolling boil and reduces to the proper thickness. Add the chicken back to the wok. Stir to incorporate with 3 tbs. toasted sesame seeds. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with sliced scallion and hot cooked white rice.

Serves 4

Must-have tools for this recipe: Chinese spider-strainer, two long-handled silicone spatulas.

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