Although sesame chicken is a westernized Chinese take-out dish, nobody can say no to these crunchy nutty little bites of chicken that are covered with a glossy sauce.
This dish can be pre-prepped in a large batch and assembled with so little effort. You can make the sauce ahead of time. It will last a few weeks or 6 months in the freezer. You just use it as needed. The chicken can be breaded and deep-fried for the first time. It will stay good in the freezer for 6 months. Whenever you want to eat it again, just take it out of the freezer. Directly double fry it without defrosting. Of course, the frozen chicken will take a little longer to fry compared to when it is fresh.
The measurement that I gave is perfect. The sauce is not too heavy. It is just enough to coat the chicken without softening the crust. If you order the take-out sesame chicken, you actually get more sauce than chicken, that’s why they are not crunchy.
To marinate the chicken
- 1 lb of Chicken breast or boneless chicken thigh
- 1 tbsp of minced garlic
- Some black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp of soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/3 tsp of baking soda
- 1 egg
- 5 tbsp of sweet potato starch
Ingredients for the sauce
- 2 tbsp of Honey
- 3 tbsp of brown sugar
- 2.5 tbsp of Soy sauce
- 2.5 tbsp of ketchup
- 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar, which will give you an authentic tough.
- 3.5 tbsp of water
- 2 tsp of sweet potato starch
- 1-1.5 cups of sweet potato starch to coat the chicken
- Enough oil to deep fry the chicken
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds
- Diced scallion for garnish
I have got here 1 lb of chicken breast. Cut it in half then slice it into 1/3 of an inch thick piece. The origin of sesame chicken actually came from Cantonese sweet and sour pork. A large percentage of the early Chinese Immigrates in the USA are Cantonese. They brought the sweet and sour pork here but chicken is a more popular and cheaper meat in the USA. That’s how sesame chicken, orange chicken, lemon chicken got spread out in the take-out industry.
Marinate the chicken with 1 tbsp of finely minced garlic, some black pepper to taste, 2 tsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/3 tsp of baking soda. Crack in one egg and add 3 tbsp of sweet potato starch. Mix thoroughly and set it aside for 20 minutes.
Based on my experience, sweet potato starch makes the crispiest layer. Then follow up with tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch, and all-purpose flour. You can choose them based on what you can get on hand. I will tell you that, all-purpose flour is the least crispy option because the gluten makes the breading doughy and the gluten absorbs the moisture back very fast so the crispy texture doesn’t last long after it is being coated with the sweet and sour sauce. I am not saying you can not use it you just have to eat it right away before you lose the crispiness.
I am using sweet potato starch. If you get it from the Asian markets, you will find 2 different forms. One is powder, the other one is coarse. The coarse one is kind of like our version of bread crumbs, but it is gluten-free. It feels like sand and it will give your crispiest chicken ever.
Normally I will coat the chicken with it but I figured out that not everybody can get coarse sweet potato starch, so I am going to show you a little trick. Spread your choice of starch in a big container. Any starch will work. Get a spray bottom and give it a few sprays. Wait for 20 seconds then fluffy it with a whisk. Spray again. Wait for another 20 seconds and whisk again. Repeat this 5 times. Then you will see the starch clumps up into little bits, which is exactly what we want.
Add the chicken onto the clumpy starch one by one. Leave some space between them. Then cover the lid and shake well.
Remove the chicken. A sieve is very helpful to shake off the excess starch. Set the chicken aside and continue to coat the next batch. Once all the chicken is coated, let it rest for 15 minutes so the starch has enough time to bond together, and it will fall off less when deep frying.
Heat your oil to 380 F. Fry the chicken in 2 batches because I don’t like to crow the wok otherwise it takes too long to cook, which is a risk of drying out the chicken. They don’t need to be golden brown because this is the first frying. We just want to cook it through. In a few minutes, remove the chicken from the wok. And put them in a basket to drain out the excess oil.
Use a sieve to remove any crumbs that are left in the oil. Otherwise, they will burn when you fry the next batch and ruin the quality of the oil.
Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes. The rest of the heat will continue to cook the chicken. The moisture will redistribute and soften the crust. This 15 minutes, we are actually waiting for the crispy layer to turn soft so we can double fry it.
During this time, we can put together the sauce. You will need 2 tbsp of Honey, 3 tbsp of brown sugar, 2.5 tbsp of Soy sauce, 2.5 tbsp of ketchup, and 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. Mix 3.5 tbsp of water with 2 tsp of sweet potato starch or your choice of starch. Then add it into the sauce bowl and stir thoroughly.
Alright, let’s bring the oil to 400 F and double fry the chicken to reinforce the crust so it doesn’t turn soft fast after it is coated with the sweet and sour sauce. This will take 2-3 minutes. Or you can go by the color, once they are golden, you can take them out. Set it aside.
Pour the oil out and leave a couple of tsp in the wok. Add the sauce that we made. Stir until it thickens. Toss in the chicken. Then add a big drizzle of sesame oil and 1.5 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds. Stir thoroughly.
Garnish with diced scallion and serve with white rice
Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe
To marinate the chicken
Ingredients for the sauce
- Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Marinate it with garlic, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, baking soda, egg white, and 1/2 tbsp of sweet potato starch. Mix thoroughly and rest for 40 minutes.
- A quick method to make sesame chicken extra crunchy:
- Spray a little bit of water on the starch.
- Give it 10 seconds to allow some of the starch to clump up into little balls.
- Fluff the starch by using a whisk.
- Spray more water, wait for 10 seconds and whisk it again.
- Do this four times in total. The starch lumps will give some extra crunch to the chicken.
- Coat the marinated chicken with the starch. Make sure to shake off the excess flour. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before frying.
- Heat the oil to 380 F. Split the chicken into two batches. Fry each batch for a few minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oil and let them rest for 15 minutes.
- While waiting, remove the starch clumps from the oil by using a fine sieve.
- Keep the temperature at 380 F. Double fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Take the chicken out and rest on the side. Double frying will stabilize the crunchiness so it last longer.
- In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, water, and vinegar.
- In a separate bowl, combine 2 tsp of starch and 2 tsp of water. Set it aside.
- Pour the sauce into a large wok and stir over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer, pour in the starch water to thicken the sauce.
- Introduce the chicken back into the wok, along with a drizzle of sesame oil and 1.5 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds. Toss everything until the chicken is coated nicely.
- Sprinkle some diced scallion as garnish. Serve with white rice.
Sweet potato starch makes the crispiest sesame chicken. You can use potato starch, cornstarch, or all-purpose flour if you don't have it.