Hye Thyme Cafe: Sesame Orange Chicken

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sesame Orange Chicken

Sesame Orange Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

For the life of me, I could not take a picture of this dish to do it justice!  Between the shine from the glaze and the white rice, I was doomed from the start.  You'll just have to take my word for how fabulous it is!  Orange with a hint of sesame and just the right kick of heat.

1 T canola oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 scallions, sliced (keep tops for garnish)
1 c tomato sauce
1/2 c water
1/4 c honey
2 T chili garlic sauce
1 T soy sauce
juice of one orange

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 t black pepper
1/3 c oil (1T sesame / balance canola or veg)

Toasted sesame seeds
Zest from an additional orange

For the sauce, saute the garlic and scallion bottoms in the canola (or vegetable) oil just until the garlic starts to brown, then add the tomato sauce, water, honey, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and the juice from your already zested orange.  You really don't want to juice the orange and THEN try to zest it.  ;)

Let the sauce come to a boil, then reduce it to a gentle simmer for 5-6 minutes to reduce a bit.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small dry pan, cook a tablespoon or two of sesame seeds (shaking or stirring frequently to prevent scorching), until golden.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut the chicken into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces.  You want to allow for a little shrinkage while cooking.  Toss the chicken in a zip-top bag with the pepper and cornstarch.

Pour the 1T sesame oil into a measuring cup, then add enough canola or vegetable oil to make 1/3c.  Heat that over medium heat, then brown the chicken on both sides, transferring to a paper-towel (or brown paper bag) lined plate to drain.  You will want to do this in 2 or 3 batches to avoid over-crowding the pan.  You may find you need to add another splash of oil between batches.  You can use more than 1T of sesame oil if you want, but you really want that flavor to be subtle rather than overpowering.

I don't know why, but I love that you can see the oil bubbling in this shot.

Once all of the chicken has been browned, wipe out the pan and return it to medium heat.  Add the orange zest to the pan, and once the oils start to release and you can really smell the orange, add the chicken, cooking them together for about a minute.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook until slightly thickened and the chicken has finished cooking through.

To plate, serve over white rice (I cooked mine in chicken broth with a little butter), and sprinkle with the reserved scallion tops and toasted sesame seeds.  If you have another orange handy, you can also zest that over the top for a bright note.

See what I mean about the pics?  Oh well ...   :(

Sesame Orange Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sesame Orange Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe
Sesame Orange Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe 

Sesame Orange Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe


  1. Hi Chris,

    Looks delicious. I am going to try making this...BTw, you dont say anything about orange zest in the sauce list...I assume its just zest of one orange?

    Brian Murray

    1. The juice goes in the sauce, the zest goes in the pan with the chicken just before adding the sauce at the end.


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