STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURES
I have got here 1 lb of chicken breast. Cut it in half then slice it into 1/3 of an inch thick piece. The origin of sesame chicken actually came from Cantonese sweet and sour pork. A large percentage of the early Chinese Immigrates in the USA are Cantonese. They brought the sweet and sour pork here but chicken is a more popular and cheaper meat in the USA. That’s how sesame chicken, orange chicken, lemon chicken got spread out in the take-out industry.
Marinate the chicken with 1 tbsp of finely minced garlic, some black pepper to taste, 2 tsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/3 tsp of baking soda. Crack in one egg and add 3 tbsp of sweet potato starch. Mix thoroughly and set it aside for 20 minutes.
Based on my experience, sweet potato starch makes the crispiest layer. Then follow up with tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch, and all-purpose flour. You can choose them based on what you can get on hand. I will tell you that, all-purpose flour is the least crispy option because the gluten makes the breading doughy and the gluten absorbs the moisture back very fast so the crispy texture doesn’t last long after it is being coated with the sweet and sour sauce. I am not saying you can not use it you just have to eat it right away before you lose the crispiness.
I am using sweet potato starch. If you get it from the Asian markets, you will find 2 different forms. One is powder, the other one is coarse. The coarse one is kind of like our version of bread crumbs, but it is gluten-free. It feels like sand and it will give your crispiest chicken ever.
Normally I will coat the chicken with it but I figured out that not everybody can get coarse sweet potato starch, so I am going to show you a little trick. Spread your choice of starch in a big container. Any starch will work. Get a spray bottom and give it a few sprays. Wait for 20 seconds then fluffy it with a whisk. Spray again. Wait for another 20 seconds and whisk again. Repeat this 5 times. Then you will see the starch clumps up into little bits, which is exactly what we want.
Add the chicken onto the clumpy starch one by one. Leave some space between them. Then cover the lid and shake well.
Remove the chicken. A sieve is very helpful to shake off the excess starch. Set the chicken aside and continue to coat the next batch. Once all the chicken is coated, let it rest for 15 minutes so the starch has enough time to bond together, and it will fall off less when deep frying.
Heat your oil to 380 F. Fry the chicken in 2 batches because I don’t like to crow the wok otherwise it takes too long to cook, which is a risk of drying out the chicken. They don’t need to be golden brown because this is the first frying. We just want to cook it through. In a few minutes, remove the chicken from the wok. And put them in a basket to drain out the excess oil.
Use a sieve to remove any crumbs that are left in the oil. Otherwise, they will burn when you fry the next batch and ruin the quality of the oil.
Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes. The rest of the heat will continue to cook the chicken. The moisture will redistribute and soften the crust. This 15 minutes, we are actually waiting for the crispy layer to turn soft so we can double fry it.
During this time, we can put together the sauce. You will need 2 tbsp of Honey, 3 tbsp of brown sugar, 2.5 tbsp of Soy sauce, 2.5 tbsp of ketchup, and 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. Mix 3.5 tbsp of water with 2 tsp of sweet potato starch or your choice of starch. Then add it into the sauce bowl and stir thoroughly.
Alright, let’s bring the oil to 400 F and double fry the chicken to reinforce the crust so it doesn’t turn soft fast after it is coated with the sweet and sour sauce. This will take 2-3 minutes. Or you can go by the color, once they are golden, you can take them out. Set it aside.
Pour the oil out and leave a couple of tsp in the wok. Add the sauce that we made. Stir until it thickens. Toss in the chicken. Then add a big drizzle of sesame oil and 1.5 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds. Stir thoroughly.
Garnish with diced scallion and serve with white rice