Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken is a home-style version of a classic Chinese restaurant take out dish. With a little spice and a little sweet, this dish is sure to please everyone’s personal tastes!
Can I share a little truth with you? We spend way too much money on take out food. It’s true and it’s shameful. How many times have I expressed my love of cooking? I have a food blog for crying out loud! Yet, when we all arrive home from work and school on Friday night, I just cannot muster the energy or the enthusiasm to prepare a meal.
Now, I guess that’s really not a bad thing. It’s not like we order in every night. It’s just once each week, but with the way we eat, it’s quite expensive. Let me explain. Both John.e and McKenna are vegetarians and I am not. Now, normally, that wouldn’t be too hard to handle, but they are two vegetarians living in the same household who do not like the same types of vegetables.
Scenario 1: Ordering Pizza. We have managed to find a pizza joint that all three of us can agree on. The pizza is not too greasy, the thin crust is just perfectly thin enough, and the sauce is neither too thick, too spicy, or too sweet. And, they happen to have a regular deal which consists of three pizzas, any size, with a total of 9 combined toppings. Now, you may be asking why a family of three needs to order three pizzas. Well, it’s simple: one meat (for me), one with just mushrooms (for McKenna), and one with black olives (gross!) for John.e.
Mckenna will eat nothing but mushrooms and cheese on her pizza. Yes, it’s easy, but it can be infuriating when you’re trying to order pizza for more than one person. I can eat anything on pizza, but tend to favour pepperoni and bacon. And, John.e likes black olives. Seriously disgusting. So, you see, three pizzas are necessary.
Did you just suggest we order a half and half pizza? That would work, but a half and half pizza will not work if I’m the one sharing it with the vegetarians. Meat cannot come anywhere close to their food. And, on the flip side, I won’t even physically touch olives – black or green – so that leaves that half and half option out. Do you see the dilemma?
Scenario 2: Ordering Chinese. There’s this little Chinese restaurant on Parliament Street in Toronto that we love. They have the best noodles I’ve ever tasted. We like to order from there at least one Friday night per month just to get a break from pizza. But, like the pizza dilemma, ordering Chinese is the same thing. John.e likes his noodles and his tofu dish. I’m not willing to eat Chinese food without sesame chicken or sweet and sour pork. And, McKenna, who has recently introduced fish into her diet, likes the seafood noodle dish.
Again, none of us can agree on anything. So, at the end of the day, when all food-related disagreements have been settled, we usually end up spending over $80 on take out every Friday night. That’s why I decided to make myself a very large batch of Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken.
John.e and McKenna were out somewhere. I had the whole apartment to myself. And I had a fresh package of chicken breasts in the fridge. Let the games begin! I used to make this dish quite regularly a few years back, and it had been a while since I pulled out that old hand-written recipe, so I was a little excited to do so. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something really satisfying about reading old recipes that you’ve been hanging on to for a while.
Every time I order Sesame Chicken from our favourite Chinese restauarnt, it’s delciious, but tends to be a little sweet. It works well with the saltiness of the noodles and the blandness of the sticky rice. For my recipe though, I wanted more than sweet; I wanted spice too. Feel free to cut back on the dried chili flakes, or add more, the choice is yours. When all is said and done, you’re going to have a big bowl of the tastiest Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken you’ve ever had!
Serve this with just plain steamed rice for a complete meal!
Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken
For the Chicken:
- 6 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into one inch pieces
- 1 cup corn starch
- Vegetable oil for frying
For the Sauce:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons dried chopped chives
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the vegetable oil to optimum frying temperature - aim for 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the corn starch until well coated.
Fry the chicken in batches - do not overcrowd the fryer. Fry each batch for 5-6 minutes. (The chicken pieces should be a light golden brown colour.) Remove from oil and place chicken on a baking sheet.
When all the chicken has been fried, move on to the sauce.
In a large skillet, add all of the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Whisk the sauce occasionally until the desired thickness has been achieved. The thicker the sauce, the better it will coat the chicken.
Once the sauce has thickened, add the cooked chicken and toss to coat. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing regularly.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh parsley or green onions and serve immediately.
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