On Eating and Loving Food

Crispy sesame chicken with a sticky Asian sauce

Yes. That.
Wed, 05/09/2018 - 12:30pm

So last week I wrote about Thai-inspired chicken soup. The next day I saw that Facebook friend Peter Ross had posted a recipe for Crispy Sesame chicken with a sticky Asian sauce, that called for a lot of the same ingredients. Hello. Of course I had to pursue this one.

Peter is a friend of the famous/notorious Slicks twins. He’s the chef at Vermont Academy, and he and Andy and Adele went to Middlebury High together. They all, as I did, grew up skiing. Not that that has anything to do with anything.

I only met the twins after I came back to Boothbay Harbor for my fifth life, but I know we would have been besties back in the day. They might even have looked up to me, being a few years older, but I doubt it.

I’ve never met Peter in real life, but I sent him a friend request after I saw that he was a Facebook friend of Andy’s, and obviously a great cook. But before I decided to write about him, and share his recipes in this column, I double-checked with the Double As to make sure we liked him. Any friend of theirs is a friend of mine. And we’re all good.

Do you remember the story about my first husband, who, unbeknownst to me, hung out with the twins when they all lived on St. Barts in the Caribbean, 10 years after we divorced, and 25 years before I met A and A? Good story, small world.

Anyway, as I said, Peter is now the chef at Vermont Academy, and from what I hear, and his pictures on Facebook, I’m pretty sure he knows his way around a kitchen. I did a column about his clams casino a while back, when the twins and Andy’s son, Ben the Cat, visited him after picking up 24 cherrystones from Pinkham’s.

And oh geez, I just looked back at that story, and look what I wrote: “It may have something to do with the guy who cooked them for them. Their friend, Peter Ross, is the chef at Vermont Academy, and a graduate of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America).”

I had forgotten he was a CIA grad, so, ya, I guess he knows his way around a kitchen.

Anyway. Peter shared a photo of his ingredients for the dish with the lead-in: “Mise en place.” I had to Google that one. I’m not a CIA grad. It means “having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking.” I’m going to start doing that, and using the phrase, regularly, to impress people.

He shared the recipe with me. He got the original from Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary, and modified it. I may modify it a little more, as some of his instructions are kind of time-intensive.

Here’s what you’ll need: Boneless chicken breasts, two eggs, cornstarch, flour, paprika, sesame oil, canola (or olive) oil, garlic, rice vinegar, honey, sweet chili sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, scallions, sesame seeds and rice.

I just went to Hannaford for chicken and scallions. I happened to have everything else in the virtual pantry.

And here’s Peter’s revised (condensed) recipe: Get a good amount of canola or olive oil heating in a large frying pan, or wok, till pretty hot. And I love this: Peter said “Whilst the oil is heating” … beat the eggs (I added a little milk), and cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. “Whilst” :-)

Anyway, throw the chicken pieces into the egg mixture to coat, then into a bowl containing an equal mix of flour and cornstarch with a good pinch of salt, a few shakes of paprika and some garlic powder.

He dredged the chicken in the cornstarch first, then eggwash, then flour etc., which I think would make this dish even more delectable than mine turned out, but I’m kind of lazy.

Throw the chicken into the oil. Actually don’t throw it – place it gently, to keep the splatter factor to a minimum. Move the pieces around to get golden brown all over. Then Peter said to place them in a bowl lined with … kitchen towels? I used paper towels, but whatever. He’s the CIA grad.

Now throw all the sauce ingredients – 1 tblsp. sesame oil, minced garlic, 1 tblsp. rice vinegar, 2 tblsp. honey, 2 tblsp. sweet chili sauce, 3 tblsp. ketchup, 2 tblsp. brown sugar, 4 tblsp. soy sauce) into the hot pan or wok, and cook.

Okay, so don’t tell Peter, but I didn’t measure anything. I just dumped in what I thought was a good amount of each thing (but the ketchup, honey, and brown sugar – I used around a tblsp. white sugar).

I also bought two jalapeno peppers – one red and one green – that I planned to use in place of the chili sauce, because I didn’t think I had any. I cut them into thin slices and fried them in the sesame oil, then threw in a very generous pinch of sesame seeds. Turned out I did have some chili sauce, so I threw some of that in, too. The heat was on in the kitchen that night.

Throw the chicken into the sauce and stir till all coated. Serve over rice. He used jasmine, and so did I. I love jasmine rice.

I’ll admit it if he reads this and is upset because I bastardized the recipe, but he bastardized the original one. Plus I was sipping on a manhattan, and that gives me courage to do whatever I damn well please.

And it was good. It was very good. I will do it again soon.