Sesame “Chicken”

Origins:

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Photo by: Krista “east buffet randomness” on Flickr CC

Most of us know this dish as a chinese food staple in the US, but Sesame Chicken is actually a very “Americanized” entrée. I can’t image a buffet without it. I’ve taken it a step even further and hopped the “veganizing”-a-traditionally-meat-based-dish bandwagon.

The history of Sesame Chicken starts back in Taipei with Geojeol Tso’s Chicken- the OG of American Chinese chicken dishes, which is completely different from the US version. Less sweet, less saucy, and less fried-crisp, this dish followed the simple soy sauce, garlic and chili flavor of Hunan cuisine. Once brought to the U.S. in the mid-70s, the recipe was modified to the American palate. Corn starch and sugar are 2 of the main ingredients to get the flavor of what Americans imagine when talking about Chinese food. Also, broccoli, carrots, yellow onions and tomatoes aren’t even easily accessible in China. Traditional Chinese vegetables are green onions, bitter leafy greens, and daikon. Even the name “Geojeol Tso’s Chicken” was modified to be more easily accessible to Americans.*

During the mid-1800s, the influx of Chinese immigrants coming into California (prompted by the Gold Rush) decided to open restaurants which grew to become pockets of chinese culture knowns as Chinatowns today. It began to grow more mainstream American after World War II and Chinese restaurants began making 2 menus- a Chinese one and an American one. As more and more people adopted this food variety into their lives, the American menu became the preferred one. This was easily made to the masses due to the inexpensive ingredients. Where fresh food was scarce and expensive post WWII, the canned, syrupy fruits and sauces used to make the American menu dishes were cheap and lasted long on shelves. Alas, “As historian Jennifer 8. Lee points out in The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, there are now more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Wendy’s combined.”**

Time:
Chopping and mixing: 10 mins
Refridgerate: 20 mins
Cook and Fry: 30 mins

Ingredients:

*recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com’s Perfect Sesame Chicken Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/141191/perfect-sesame-chicken/*

Fried “Nuggets”:

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 packet of soy chicken slices (about 60 in a pack)

Sauce:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chile paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 3 green onion stalks, chopped

Directions:

For the Fried “Nuggets”:

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl. Mix around the dry ingredients.

Then, add the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, water, vegetable oil, a sesame oil. Stir the liquid and dry ingredients together. It should be the consistency of more liquidy pancake batter, if you need it thicker, add a little more flour.

Add the soy nuggets into the batter and make sure they are all coated. Then, put the mixture in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.

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For the sauce: 

In a large saucepan set to medium-high, add veggie broth, sugar, white vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile paste, and garlic. Stir.

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Then, dissolve cornstarch and warm water together and pour into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until it is thick and smooth. This happens very fast (about2 minutes). Once it’s ready, bring the heat down to a low simmer and leave it while you start frying the nuggets.

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For the frying:

In a large pot, add vegetable oil until it is deep enough to fry in without anything ever touching the bottom (the amount of oil you need will depend on the size of your pot).

Put the pot on medium-high and do the chopstick test to know when the oil is hot enough- put the choptick in the oil, and if bubbles form around it, it’s ready!

Start adding the nuggets (that were in the fridge) and be sure not to crowd the pot, otherwise the nuggets will stick together.

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Fry until they are golden brown, and then put on a cookie rack to drain the oil. Use chopsticks to flip and pick up the nuggets for better agility.

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Once all nuggets are fried, add them to the saucepan and make sure all nuggets are coated with the sauce. Top with green onions and sesame seeds and we are ready to eat!

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Where should I buy these ingredients?

Pretty much most of my ingredients were bought from the local asian market by my apartment in Raleigh, NC- the glorious Grand Asia. I recommend it because of the prices and the all the different cultures you get to experience just by being there!

How many does it serve?

This recipe serves about 4 people

What does this pair well with?

Garlic and soy sauce stir-fried long beans and steamed short-grain jasmine rice

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How long can it last?

Because this is deepfried, I would recommend only keeping this for 1-2 days (if you must). Eat as soon as possible.

 

*http://firstwefeast.com/eat/2015/03/illustrated-history-of-americanized-chinese-food
** https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/chinese-food-history-how-american-chinese-cuisine-is-different-thrillist-nation
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. organicliv says:

    This seems fun to make!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was! And delicious 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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