Sesame Chicken

Serves 4
The thick crust and cloyingly sweet flavor of the typical take-out version of this dish turns me off. My kids disagree, brainwashed as they are by our local Chinese restaurant. But they also love this recipe. Skip the deep fryer and the thick batter, add some vegetables, and keep that delicious sesame umami-filled flavor.


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 6 ounces snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained
  • 8 ounces water chestnuts, halved
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


  1. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, cooking wine, cornstarch, and sugar. Stir in chicken and marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Place wok over high heat. When wok smokes, add peanut oil. When oil shimmers, add garlic and ginger and cook for 10 seconds.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade. Reserve marinade and add chicken to wok. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned in places and just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in chili paste and snow peas and cook 2 minutes more, or until snow peas are shiny and bright green.
  5. Stir in bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and continue cooking until they are heated through, about one minute.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in scallions, sesame seeds, and sesame oil and serve immediately.
cook's note
Skillets: If you cook for a large group regularly, buy a large cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet, preferably 14 inches. It will permit you to brown all the pieces of a 3- to 4-pound chicken in a single batch.
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