I really miss ordering Chinese food take-out. One of my favorite dishes was sesame chicken, the fried chicken pieces with the sticky sauce and steamed broccoli. I was aiming for that, but without the frying (because it’s too messy for a weeknight) and with a relatively simple sauce. And admittedly, as I was mixing up the few sauces I tried while working on this, I did find that Barenaked Ladies song in my head more than once. Don’t hold its nonsense against my chicken — this is not quite takeout, but it’s a good quick stir-fry that will fill that need.
What I eventually ended up with is somewhere between sesame chicken, orange chicken, and more of a stir-fry sauce, which is pretty good. Cooking takes about 20 minutes or so, and if you work prep in while cooking (I chopped the chicken while the broccoli cooked, and I made the sauce while the chicken cooked, but don’t forget to stir!), this can be done in about 30 minutes. With this timing, this is a near-perfect weeknight meal (you could even do all the prep — chopping and making the sauce) in advance and throw everything in the fridge, ready to go when you get home.
If you don’t like chicken, I am guessing that this sauce would work well on pork, maybe even on tofu. If you try it, please let us know how it turned out!
I added sesame seeds at the end as a garnish, therefore this post is tagged with a sesame warning. But these are absolutely optional. They just look pretty. Omit them if you are allergic, do not like them, or aren’t trying to take better food photos.
IF YOU ARE MAKING RICE WITH THIS DISH, start it first! I forgot, so I just decided to “go low-carb” for the night. You could also serve it over a Pad Thai-style rice noodle, but that won’t absorb the rest of the sauce like rice will. I generally use a brown jasmine rice for Chinese food.
Chickity Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
- 2 broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 1/2 lb. chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into one-inch cubes
- 3 Tablespoons glutinous rice flour OR starch of your choice (This was tested only with the glutinous rice flour. Do not use plain rice flour, brown or white.)
- 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/3 cup faux tamari, tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos — whatever you can safely use
- 4 Tablespoons honey *Buy local if you can, and be aware that honey can be problematic for those with corn sensitivities. It is likely that agave or maple syrup would work here, but I did not test it.
- 2 Tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine for cooking) or 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar, unseasoned, and 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce of your choice (optional, but does not make this spicy)
- Sesame seeds, optional — just used for garnish
In a wok or skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add your broccoli to the hot oil, and stir regularly to coat. When the oil is evenly distributed over the broccoli, add your tablespoon of water and cover the skillet or wok. Open every 2 minutes or so and stir. Aim for just slightly under the tenderness you like for broccoli, as you’ll cook it again for a few minutes at the end. When the broccoli is done, remove it from the wok.
Toss your chicken cubes with the glutinous rice flour or starch.
Heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the coated chicken and all the loose flour at the bottom of the bowl or on the plate to the wok, and spread the chicken out to a single layer. If you have too much chicken to do this, cook it in two batches. Keep tossing the chicken — if you’re a proper wok user, and you have your heat on high, do this constantly. If you’re a distracted wimp like me, and only turn your burner up to medium-high, give it 30-45 seconds between stirs. You will feel the chicken start to sort of solidify, indicating that it’s cooked, and lightly browning the outsides adds flavor.
Mix the rest of the ingredients for the sauce. This all fits easily in a 1 cup measuring cup, so I just measure it all into there.
When the chicken is 95-100% done (depending on your risk tolerance, add the sauce. Wait until it start to simmer, and then stir each time it starts to simmer again. When the sauce starts to thicken up (you will see it, I promise), add the broccoli back in and stir well to coat everything. Let this cook for another minute or two, and then serve, either over rice, noodles, or straight up out of a takeout box. Garnish with the sesame seeds if you are using them.
You can totally pretend that this was delivered, but that doesn’t make the dishes magically disappear. Sorry about that.