Should I order a Chinese takeaway instead of cooking tonight? - is a question many people ask themselves at the end of a long day. I often decide no and opt for this spicy sesame chicken instead. It's super easy and quick to put together and very tasty. This crispy fried chicken coated in a deliciously sweet, sticky and spicy sauce topped with crispy spring onions and sesame seeds is one of my favourite weeknight indulgences. Admittedly, it's not the healthiest dish on our dinner rotation, but it is much better for you than ordering a takeaway and with a 30 min cook time it might be quicker too.
Key ingredients and possible alternatives:
- 🍗 Chicken thighs - I opt for thigh meat over breast because it is more succulent, but you can use breast if you prefer.
- 🍚 Rice - jasmine, basmati or sushi rice will all work well. You could also use brown rice if you want to make the dish a little healthier. Note that this has a much longer cooking time so it's best to start cooking it when you begin prepping the ingredients. If you want to save time you can also use microwaveable pre-cooked rice.
- Cornflour - the chicken is coated in cornflour before it is fried so that it crisps up on the outside and stays succulent on the inside. You can substitute this with potato starch but do not swap it for plain flour.
- 🌶 Red chilli - adds spiciness to the sauce. You can use bird's eye chillies or standard long red chillies. Adjust the amount to suit your desired heat level. One bird's eye chilli or two long red chillies will create a medium level of spiciness. You can also omit the chilli altogether if you are very sensitive to spice.
- Sauce ingredients - soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and water are mixed together to form a sweet, salty and slightly tangy sauce. If you do not have rice vinegar you can use apple cider vinegar instead.
- Sesame seeds and spring onion toppings - these are added to the cooked dish to provide additional texture.
- Oil - is necessary for frying the chicken and the chilli, garlic and ginger. Use an oil that can withstand a high heat such as groundnut or vegetable oil. Do not use olive oil as it will burn when it reaches the higher temperatures required for stir-frying. You might need a little more oil than the amount stated in the recipe when frying the chicken so make sure you have some extra on-hand.
How to make spicy sesame chicken
1. Prep the chicken, sauce and slurry
Add the cornflour to a medium to large-sized bowl and mix the chicken pieces until they are evenly coated. Mix the soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and water in a jug or bowl and set aside. Make the slurry by mixing the remaining cornflour with double the amount of water in another small bowl or jug and set it aside.
If you are serving the dish with white rice start cooking it at this point according to packet instructions. I recommend setting a timer, so you do not forget about it.
2. Fry the chicken
Place a medium-large frying pan on a high heat and add oil. When the oil gets hot, shake any excess cornflour off the chicken pieces, add them to the pan and fry until they begin to brown and crisp up. Set the chicken aside when it is cooked.
3. Seasoning and sauce
Wipe the pan clean, place on a medium heat and add a little more oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan when the oil is hot and fry for a few minutes until fragrant. Then pour on the sauce and increase the heat, add the slurry when the sauce starts to simmer and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken, stir until incorporated. Serve immediately with rice and top with the spring onions and sesame seeds.
Tools and equipment
Spicy sesame chicken is a simple dish that does not require an extensive list of kitchen equipment to bring it together. Here are a few key items:
- Sharp knife - for chopping the spring onions, chilli and ginger
- Garlic crusher - I find this is the best way to generate tiny pieces of garlic quickly, but you can use a knife if you do not have one
- Medium to large frying pan - choose a pan that can accommodate all the chicken and sauce
- Saucepan or rice cooker - you will need an additional saucepan for the rice if you plan to cook it on the stove. A rice cooker is a great investment if you eat rice regularly. I love mine and would never be without it now. It removes any chance of the rice overcooking and I find the keep warm mode very convenient, especially when my husband and I need to eat at different times.
You can store the cooked chicken and sauce in the fridge for up to 2 days. Make sure you refrigerate it as soon as it has cooled and place it in an airtight container. Do not store the chicken and rice together unless you plan to eat it the next day. Leftover rice should not be kept for longer than 24 hours and should be reheated thoroughly before you eat it. You can reheat the leftovers on the stove or in the microwave.
Yes you can, it will freeze for up to 3 months. Just portion it up, place it in containers or freezer bags and freeze when cooled.
The amount of chilli in this recipe will create a medium level of warmth. You can adjust the amount of chilli to suit your desired level of spiciness. You can also omit the chilli if you are very sensitive to spice.