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This is my absolute favorite sesame chicken recipe! The fragrant sesame oil, sweet savory sauce and tender chicken, wonderful served with a bowl of steamy rice. You can adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar depending on how sweet and sour your palette prefers. Either black or white sesame seeds make the dish pretty. Happy May holiday weekend everyone!

3-4 chicken breasts, about 1 pound
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 spring scallions, chopped
Toasted black or white sesame seeds
Peanut oil for frying

For the Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely minced
2 dried red chilies
2 tablespoons good quality roasted black sesame oil
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup stock or water
3 tablespoons cornstarch, mix well into 3 tablespoons of water

Cut the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces. In a mixing bowl, marinade the chicken with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine and dust with cornstarch, mix well, let sit for 15 minutes. Deep fry the chicken pieces until lightly-medium golden brown. Fry in batches to ensure they brown evenly and not overly cooked. Drain on paper towel.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil until smoking, throw in the garlic, onions, red chilies and fry until your kitchen is filled with the aroma. Carefully pour in the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and bring to a boil. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch mix while stirring constantly.

Put the chicken pieces in and flip the wok until the chicken pieces are well coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped scallions and serve immediately.


We have been gone a while, trekking and eating through South East Asia. Over our stop in Singapore, we have found some really great Hainan chicken rice, Indian curries and Katong laksa. The components of a good Hainan chicken rice are the tender meat that is expertly cooked, fragrant chicken broth infused rice and perfectly concocted ginger & chili sauces.

Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell hawker food center.

Little India, where colorful temples and mosques, shophouses stocked with spices, gold and incense lined the streets. We found a small, unpretentious corner food stall mobbed by locals.  Despite the heat, loud street noise and wobbly plastic stools, the food had our undivided attention. It was simple, spicy and straightforwardly good.

Last but not least, Katong laksa–made with slightly sweet coconut curry and strong aromatics. The noodles are cut up in small pieces so the soup can be eaten with the only utensil provided, the spoon. The version we had eaten had shrimp, strips of fish cake, bean sprouts and garnished with laksa leaves and sambal chili paste that was available on each dining table.

Do you crave boneless, chunky chicken pieces with savory, sweet and sour glaze like Chinese restaurants serve in the states? Tired of ordering Chinese chicken with bones, skin on and tiny bite portions? We came up with this recipe as we couldn’t find anything like it in Shanghai. Large boneless and skinless chicken breasts are available from Pine’s or Jiashan Market on Jianguo lu. Enjoy!

2 large chicken breasts
4 red chilis, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 scallion, finely minced
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons rice wine
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch, plus 1 cup for dredging
Peanut oil for frying
Kosher salt

Cut the chicken breasts in large chunks. Marinade with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 2 egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt for 15 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together rest of the 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 2 teaspoons tomato paste, rice vinegar, chili sauce, sesame oil, sugar, water and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Set aside.

Dust chicken pieces in cornstarch, shake off excess. In batches, deep fry the chicken in peanut oil until lightly golden brown and just cooked through. You don’t want to overcook chicken breasts. Take the chicken pieces out and drain on paper towel.

In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil on high heat, throw in the garlic, scallions and chili peppers (you want to hear the sizzle) and saute until fragrant. Stir the sauce to incorporate the cornstarch and liquid together. Pour the sauce into the pan and turn the heat down to medium-high. Cook and stir constantly until the sauce forms a glaze, about 2 minutes.

Throw in the chicken pieces, toss vigorously to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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