Friday, April 12, 2013

Sesame Chicken Sauce

I love Sesame Chicken from the local Chinese food place, but not so much the expense, and definitely not the rock-hard breading on the chicken. So, I have come up with my own recipe that is quite satisfying and economical.

I buy the Asian ingredients at the local international grocery where the prices are amazingly reasonable, often less than half that at the regular stores or even the big box discount store!

The international store (called the Super-G Mart) has been here in town for several years, but I never went in until about six months ago. It’s quite an experience. One of the first things you see is the big bags of rice (15-40 pounds) of many different types and origins: Basmati, jasmine, long grain, medium grain, from China, India, and the US.

Folks from all over the world mix with locals throughout aisles that carry a dizzying array of foods, many of which I can’t identify. The produce is amazing. There is so much to choose from. Despite being crowded and busy, all of the customers show great respect for one another, making it a far better shopping experience than the local discount store. Going to “foreign food” stores makes good gourmet and economical sense.

Here is my own recipe for yummy homemade Sesame Chicken:

Use the broth from ½ of a 40-oz. bag frozen chicken tenders baked with:
  • 1 T olive oil in the pan            ¼ cup teriyaki sauce         a pinch of ground cloves
  • garlic powder                         onion powder
Use the oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Place the tenders in one layer. Drizzle the tenders with teriyaki sauce, then season to taste with onion & garlic. Go easy on the cloves, they’re powerful.

Cover with foil. This keeps the tenders from drying out and produces the broth.

Bake for 30 minutes at 250° then 30-60 more minutes at 300°.
  • (Editorial note: It took quite a bit longer in a glass pan than in a metal one. I had to up the temp to 300° and cook an extra 30 minutes. The key to doneness is opaque chicken and clear juices.) 
The long slow cooking makes for very tender meat. If you're pressed for time, by all means cook at a higher temp.

Remove the chicken and pour the broth into a small saucepan. The broth is about 1-1/2 cups. Alternately, use some canned broth or bouillon if you come by your chicken through a different method.

Bring the broth to a boil over med-high heat. Add:

  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger              ¾ cup sugar  (I use demerara)  
  •  2 T soy sauce     2 T rice wine vinegar     1 tsp or so Sesame oil               

Reduce heat just below medium. Mix 2 scant tablespoons arrowroot powder to equal amount water, mix well. Add to the sauce to thicken. Maybe hold back a little on arrowroot. Mine came out very thick and gelled.

Once the sauce has thickened, add:
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces if you like. Pour sauce over chicken.

Serve sauced chicken over rice with cooked veggies. Yum! 

Makes 3-4 servings. GREAT for brown-bag lunch.

I had some sauce left over to put in the freezer.


Fresh ginger smells wonderful, very lemony and it is well worth the trouble. Substitute ½ tsp ground ginger if fresh isn’t available.

If you want to use fresh onions and garlic, go for it.

Cornstarch is another thickener you can use.

Sesame Oil is powerful stuff, so err on the side of caution. It the smell is overwhelming, refrigerate the sauce overnight and it will become much milder.

If you don't have rice wine vinegar, you can use fruit juice, or apple cider vinegar. Use about half as much cider or white vinegar as rice vinegar.

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