Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 - 10 minutes
When one thinks of sesame chicken, the image that comes to mind is usually that strange, red lacquered dish from Chinese restaurants. This version of sesame chicken is much healthier, since the chicken is poached and not fried. Healthy tahini or natural peanut butter form the base of the sauce, which is accented with other Asian-themed ingredients, such as soy sauce, fresh ginger root, hot chili pepper oil and scallions. This dish can withstand a bit of tweaking - if you can't get bone-in chicken breasts, you may certainly substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It can also be made as hot as desired by adding more hot chili pepper oil (or Sriracha or sambal oelek, if you can't get hot chili pepper oil). The refreshing crunch and coolness of the sliced cucumbers helps to cleanse your palate and cool your tongue down. Also keep in mind this dish can be made gluten-free by the use of gluten-free tamari.
- 3 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin (skin is optional)
- 1/4 cup tahini or Smuckers Natural peanut butter
- 2 - 3 tbsp. toasted sesame oil (enough to liquify the tahini or peanut butter)
- 2 1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce (or reduced sodium, gluten-free tamari)
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp. hot chili pepper oil, or more to taste (can also sub with Sriracha or sambal oelek)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root, or more to taste
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced diagonally into 1/4" slices
In a large pot, bring 16 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the chicken breasts and poach for 8 - 10 minutes; you may have to let them poach for a minute or two longer, depending on thickness. Remove the poached breasts to a plate and let cool - or (at your own risk), immediately start shredding the chicken into a large bowl.
Thoroughly combine in a medium bowl the tahini (or peanut butter), soy sauce (or tamari), vinegar, toasted sesame oil, hot chili pepper oil (or Sriracha/sambal oelek), sugar, ginger and scallion. If you decided to spare your fingers a potentially nasty burn, now is the time to remove the bones from the breasts. By hand, tear the chicken into pieces in rough shreds about 2 1/2" long by 1/2" thick. Place the shredded chicken in a bowl. Pour the sesame paste over the chicken shreds and mix thoroughly to coat.
Place the cucumber on a small plate. To serve, pile the cucumber slices on top of the chicken and serve immediately.
If desired, the cucumber and chicken can be covered separately and refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Bring both to room temperature before serving.
NOTE: If you use the natural peanut butter, you probably will not need the full amount of sesame oil to thin it. Start with 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil and add as necessary; I used about 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil and that made it plenty thin.