Midtown Lunch's Zach Brooks adores this sweet-spicy Chinese-American restaurant staple. The version here is lighter than take-out because the chicken is only lightly coated in cornstarch and is pan-fried rather than deep-fried.
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Steamed broccoli and white rice, for serving
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain the chicken on paper towels and immediately add to the sauce along with the scallions. Cook just until coated, about 30 seconds. Serve right away, with steamed broccoli and rice.
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I have made many variations of chinese takeout and I have to say by far this one was the most delicious. The sauce was perfect, the chicken had a wonderful crunch to it. I didn't add the chicken all at once to the sauce, rather, I did it as each family member was ready for their portion. If you want to keep chicken a little crispy, I suggest not mixing all together with the sauce, including the leftovers. Whole family thought was delicious and I have a VERY picky teen boy diner.
I consider myself quite a good cook and I have to say, this was fun to make. The mixture of cornstarch, sesame oil and soy sauce created a very sticky paste for the chicken. I got it everywhere! Use a spatula to mix and tongs to put the pieces into the oil. My son gives it 2 thumbs up.