Easy crispy oven baked Chinese Chicken tossed in a sticky honey sesame sauce. Who needs takeout when it’s faster and so much healthier to make at home?
Chinese sesame chicken isn’t huge in Australia. In fact, I rarely see it on Chinese restaurant menus. My first experience was at a hotel buffet (don’t judge me!) in New York. Then in Vegas. (Ok, judge me!)
To this day, I remain perplexed why Sesame Chicken hasn’t made it to our shores. Along with Kung Pao Chicken, which still isn’t huge here though I have seen it on the odd menu in ChinaTown.
I mean, crispy chicken tossed in a sweet salty sauce loaded with sesame flavours. Hello. Australia. What is wrong with us? We need to start a Sesame Chicken Revolution.
Sesame Chicken is usually deep fried which gives it a lovely crunchy coating. I don’t deep fry for midweek meals. Too much effort, too much mess, and my waistline can’t afford it.
So this is how I make Sesame Chicken for a midweek meal – by baking it. MOST of the crunch. All of the flavour. Don’t you think this looks lovely and crispy??
One key thing I do to make this nice and crispy – I use chunky strips of chicken rather than small pieces. This way, I can bake and broil/grill it long enough to make it crispy without the chicken shrivelling up into miserable dried chicken.
Then you toss it in the gorgeous sticky sauce….
…then you sprinkle over more sesame seeds (this is Sesame Chicken after all!) and a fresh sprinkle of shallots/scallions….(PS excuse the very pudgy Baby Hands, exceptionally hot muggy day in Sydney today)
And then we have this.
This recipe has the ultimate validation – from a member of my family.
I have a lot of willing taste testers in my life. But I rarely get helpful feedback from them. (“OMG, everybody loved it!” does not count as constructive feedback!)
On the other hand, we have my family – mother, brother and sister. Always respectful, always appreciative when someone cooks. But…..we definitely don’t hold back if we have….erm….. thoughts. ?
Trust me, it goes both ways. I give it as good as good as I get it!
So yesterday (Sunday), my sister happened to drop by and I sent her home with takeaway containers filled with this Sesame Chicken as well as Kung Pao Chicken (coming soon!). That evening, I got a text.
“The chicken was really nice.”, my sister wrote. “But your rice needs work. It was dry.”
Gasp! My rice, dry? Offensive. And so began a string of fiery text messages back and forth about the rice.
But this isn’t about my rice. It’s about the Sesame Chicken. It has my sister’s stamp of approval. Go forth and enjoy! – Nagi x
- 1lb/500g chicken thighs, cut into 1.2cm/ ½" slices (Note 1)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sesame paste OR tahini (Note 2)
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ cup plain flour
- Oil spray
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shaoshing / Shaoxing wine) or sherry (or use chicken broth/stock)
- ¾ cup chicken broth / stock
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar or Chinese black vinegar (or ordinary white vinegar)
- 3½ tbsp honey
- 1½ tbsp soy sauce, all purpose ordinary (Note 3)
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1½ tbsp cornstarch / cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp oil (vegetable, canola, peanut)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 scallion/shallot stem, sliced
- ½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 200C/430F with shelf placed on the highest level. Spray baking tray with oil.
- Mix sesame paste and soy sauce in a bowl (to loosen it up, easier to coat chicken). Add chicken, salt and sesame seeds.
- Place flour in a separate bowl and coat chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Place chicken on baking tray.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Flick to broiler/grill as high as it will go with shelf about 15cm/6" from the heat source.
- Turn chicken. Broiler/grill for 5 minutes until golden and quite crispy (Note 4), then remove.
- Meanwhile, mix together Sauce in one bowl and Cornstarch in another.
- Heat oil in a wok or skillet (I used a skillet) over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.
- Add Sauce and bring to bubble. Add Cornstarch and cook for 30 seconds until it thickens into a thick syrup.
- Remove the Sauce immediately from the stove and pour over the chicken.
- Toss chicken in Sauce then sprinkle over Sesame Seeds and Shallots/Scallions to serve. Serve with rice.
2. Sesame paste is a Chinese ingredient that can be found at Asian grocery stores. I honestly cannot tell the difference between it and Tahini (the sesame paste used for hummus). PEANUT BUTTER is also an adequate substitute. I promise! It adds a bit of nutty flavour and acts as the same binding agent.
3. Please do not use LIGHT or DARK soy sauce. Use an all purpose ordinary soy sauce. I use Kikkoman. You will know it is an all purpose one because it won't have "light", "dark" or "sweet" soy sauce on the label. Light soy sauce is too salty for this dish and the flavour of dark soy sauce is too intense.
4. Fact is, baking chicken will not be as crispy as deep frying. But it's far healthier and it is still crispy! If you want to go all out, use the same coating but deep fry the chicken in oil. For extra extra crunch, fry it twice.
5. I used to have my own recipe from scratch but then I saw this one from Woks of Life. It tasted even better so this recipe is a bit of a mash up of mine and theirs! 🙂
Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings. Rice not included.