Yeshi came up with this one here in the UK, and it has become a real crowd favourite at our restaurant and food stall. The name has stuck as it has a lovely ring to it, but the sesame element is in fact a bit incidental. There’s very little heat to this dish – the kids love it. Serve with basmati rice and Yeshi’s dal (see page 206 of the book – details below).
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) chicken breast fillets
3 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
600 ml (21 fl oz) cooking oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
2–3 fresh green chillies, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper (capsicum), diced
1 red pepper (capsicum), diced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of salt
Coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish – optional
For the marinade
2–3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 cm (21/2 inch) piece of ginger, washed but not peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Bassar curry masala (or hot chilli powder)
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Cut the chicken breast fillets on the diagonal to make bite-sized strips. Add the chicken to the marinade and mix well using a fork or your hands, then cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour.
Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge. Tip the cornflour into the bowl and use your hands to massage it through the chicken so that it is mixed through completely.
Pour the oil into a large wok and place over a high heat. To check if the oil is hot enough, toss in just a little bit of chicken first: if it bubbles furiously, you’re good to go. Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken out of the bowl and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Stir gently, then let it cook for 7–8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, then remove and set aside.
You now need to carefully pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the wok. (We pour ours into a heatproof jug and leave it to cool, then it can be strained and re-used.) Return the wok, with its remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, to a medium heat. Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry for about a minute, then add the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes – the onion won’t look cooked at this point, but this is fine as it only needs to be lightly stir-fried. Add the green and red peppers and stir-fry for just a few minutes, then return the chicken to the wok. Stir everything together for 3–4 minutes.
Just before you serve up, add the tomato to the wok and mix it in well, then stir in the sesame oil and salt. Garnish with coriander, if you like, but the dish is plenty colourful without.
Want to know more?
Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa’s legendary Tibetan restaurant and food stall serves momo dumplings, curry and Tibetan chai tea. The restaurant at 109 Magdalen Road (OX4 1RQ) has been tipped by The Guardian, Time Out and BBC Good Food Magazine, but not before appearing on my radar, and of course featuring in the Muddy Awards 2021.
Taste Tibet: Family recipes from the Himalayas by Julie Kleeman with Yeshi Jampa (Murdoch Books, £25).
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