Once a year we’re challenged to come up with either a main course, appetizers or desserts or all of the above for an annual potluck dinner in our apartment house. It’s a fun event that usually starts around noon and ends in the wee hours. Good thing we have great neighbors, so it never gets boring. But then of course it is also about food. One of our last years contribution was this Chicken Sesame Salad and the feedback has been, hmm, let’s say pretty positive ;)
Little side note: The previous time I made this salad, we had family over and of course set high expectations. Perhaps I was distracted for a minute or two or I wanted the cucumber to get a really spicy touch, anyway, I left the szechuan black pepper for a bit too long in the hot pan. With the result, that the kitchen had to be evacuated due to stinging air and third degree chemical burns – ok I’m exaggerating here – but seriously, leaving the pepper in the pan for too long can not only ruin your dish, but also cause your respiration system to trip.
Rinse chicken breast and put it in a large enough pot. Cover with water, add a pinch of salt and slowly bring to the boil. Cover pot and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Once ready, take the chicken out and allow to cool down on a plate.
In the meantime, cut the cucumber in three equal pieces. Slice each piece length-wise and remove its seeds with a spoon and and start cutting off thin slices. Cut the chili in small rings. Depending on how spicy you like it, either take out the chili seeds or leave them in.
Heat up the peanut oil in a pan or wok. I usually add the chili and the pepper a minute before I add the cucumber strips. That way the oil will be infused by the chili and pepper aromas (quite spicy!). Now add the cucumber, sauté for another 4-5 minutes, add a pinch of salt, stir one more time and remove from heat. Set aside to chill.
The chicken should be cooled down by now, take out from pot and tear to pieces. This can actually be a tedious process, depending on how many people you cook for and how accurate and thin you want the strips to be…
Roughly 5 hours later…(just kidding). For the sauce, roast the sesame seeds until they develop a slight golden color, then crush/grind the seeds in a food processor or use a mortar. I usually keep a 1/3 of the roasted seeds and add them later to the sauce as it looks nicer in the end – I think.
Add the sesame (ground & in whole) to the sesame oil and the soy sauce. Add sugar to your liking. If the sauce does get a little too thick, you can always add a little water.
Arrange the cucumber on a plate, add some of the chicken on-top and sprinkle with the sesame sauce. Best served lukewarm. Oliver
Chicken Sesame Salad
Recipe Source: Adaptation from Asian Basics by GU (p. 48)
Prep/cooking/chilling time: about 40 min.
Ingredients (serves 2):
300-400g chicken breast
1 large cucumber
2-3 fresh red chilis
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp szechuan pepper
Ingredients for sesame sauce:
5 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar, to your liking