I’ve never ordered Sesame Chicken in a Chinese restaurant – I was always more of a Chicken Lo Mein or Happy Family kind of girl – so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I made Lighter Sesame Chicken from the December 2007 issue of Everyday Food.
I started by making the brown rice. This was actually the most time-consuming part of this recipe. Brown rice (regular, not instant) takes 45 minutes to cook as opposed to 20 minutes for white rice. I guess instant brown rice does exist, but it sounds like there may be some texture and flavor issues. The rice cooking time wasn’t really an issue, though, because I used it to handle the rest of the recipe, and everything ended up being finished at the same time. That’s always a plus!
Once I had the brown rice going, I prepped the broccoli. I cut two heads into large florets and then peeled and thinly sliced the leftover stems. Peeling broccoli stems isn’t my favorite chore, but a good Y peeler always helps. I also cut 4 scallions into thin slices and set them aside.
Next, I made the sauce. I combined honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic in a small bowl and set it aside. In a large bowl, I combined 2 egg whites and some cornstarch. (I didn’t realize at the time that I was making batter – silly me!) I added 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 2-inch chunks, seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper, and then tossed the chicken to coat it.
I heated 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I cooked the chicken in two batches, about 8 minutes per batch. When I turned on the heat for the chicken, I also started boiling water in a pot with a steamer basket for the broccoli. The water reached a boil during the first batch of chicken, and I cooked the broccoli for 6 minutes during the second batch of chicken.
When the second batch of chicken was finished, I put the first batch back in the pan with the second batch. I added the sauce I had made earlier to the skillet along with the scallions, and I tossed everything to coat.
I put the chicken mixture and the broccoli in a medium bowl, tossed it together, and served it with the brown rice.
This was yummy. It definitely didn’t taste like deep-fried chicken (some will see that as a plus, some as a minus, I know), but there was a slight, pleasant crunch to the dish. I also think the batter helped keep the chicken nice and juicy. I will make this again. Next time, I might cut my chicken pieces a little smaller, though. I think the purpose behind the two-inch chunks is that there would be less surface area for the batter to cover (making the dish lighter, I suppose), but I prefer bite-size pieces.
TIPS: When you first put the battered chicken in the pan to saute it, make sure you give it a good toss in the first minute. I let my first batch cook for about two minutes before I tried to toss it, and I actually had to flip it and break up the pieces with a spatula because the batter had formed a solid layer on the bottom.
I had some oil spatter issues with my second batch, so watch your hands (and clothes!).
Recipe link: Lighter Sesame Chicken