Tag Archives: sesame

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

Don’t you just love eating that cheap, MSG-heavy Asian food at the mall? When I was little, it was my favorite meal. Now, it smells and tastes good…but doesn’t feel good….immediately after.

I’m not sure what, exactly, makes that mall food so evil for one’s entire body. Especially when you can easily make those foods at home for less money and without any of the repercussions. Anyhow, this meal offers all the pleasure of Asian flavors in a way that is guilt-free and risk-averse.

My Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken makes me feel like such a mom. It involves a Crock Pot, is healthy, makes large quantities and is pleasing for little people. I even found it on some mom blog that posts recipes on Pinterest. But in my never-ending pursuit of slow-cooker recipes, I charged ahead into momland and will never come back.

My only complaint is that the maximum cooking time is 4 hours. This working gal needs something that can slow-cook for at LEAST 9 hours, preferably 10. Do most people just come home at lunch and put the Crock Pot on? People take lunch breaks? I don’t get it. So I made this over the weekend, when a rainy day kept me inside with other endeavors: baking sandwich bread, pasta frittatas and a lovely spicy pork dish with black-eyed peas.

I made a few adaptations to this (I will definitely be trying more of their recipes!)…

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thighs would be fine too)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (surprise! don’t judge – just do it)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Chopped green onion, for garnish

Season both sides of chicken lightly with salt and pepper, place flat into Crock Pot. Scatter onion over the top. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, garlic, sesame oil and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily (mine cooked 3.5 hours). Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened. Shred chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving. Serve, sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions.

The honey plus ketchup add the right sticky sweetness that you expect from a good teriyaki-type dish. So yummy! Sweet and savory and satisfying. Wonderful over rice, as we had it, or noodles. Even in taco shells would be good.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Sesame-Broiled Tilapia with Coconut Red Curry


A certain special friend, who shall remain nameless, turns her nose up at tilapia as the lowest fish on the pescatarian totem pole. Something about tilapia being a cheap bottom-feeder. 🙂

Tilapia are indeed cheap, but in my opinion, are a great vehicle for strongly flavored dishes due to their clean taste. I will note that I’ve read that farm-raised tilapia can be unhealthy due to the amount of corn the fish are fed, so be mindful when you are shopping. When handled properly, this fish is not mealy or fishy, but instead a quick and yummy weeknight meal option.

Grant typically fries tilapia for fish tacos and it’s one of my favorite dishes. But I need something beyond fried. Then my friend Merissa wrote me about a delicious tilapia curry she had recently made. The resulting recipe is all her.

A wonderful and rather light curry simmers on your stove and is poured over tilapia fillets perfectly broiled in toasted sesame oil. It filled our house with wonderful smells and the taste met our expectations.

Sesame-Broiled Tilapia with Coconut Red Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2  teaspoons  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1  teaspoon  curry powder
  • 2  teaspoons  red curry paste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 4  teaspoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1  (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets (we used 2)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  cups  hot cooked jasmine rice
  • 4  lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

When I made this, I packed it into a picnic basket for a picnic at Reynolda Park. What a great departure from the typical fried-chicken picnic fare. That curry is so delicious, I could drink it with a straw!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Grilled tuna with ginger-chile marinade

I keep tuna and salmon in the only-good-in-sushi category. I’m not a huge fan of the cooked fish, finding it a bit oily and strong-flavored for my sensitivities. Raw, they are fine; cooked, it gets all wrong.

I’m not sure what the solution is to cooked (not cured or smoked) salmon, but for tuna, I’ve found a way around the fishy weirdness with a good marinade and all-wood charcoal.

Based on an Epicurious recipe, this proved to be a wonderful summer evening meal, served with a baked tomato-basil-mozzarella bread salad and tamarind margaritas… First things first.

My dining companion manned the grill, starting with all-wood charcoal and one of those chimney things that you use to get the coals hot. It takes longer, but I could absolutely taste the difference – plus, who wants their food to taste like lighter fluid?

While the coals are heating, work on the tuna…

Grilled tuna with ginger-chile marinade

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 T grated or minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (canola oil works fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Asian dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds 1 1/4 -inch-thick ahi tuna, cut into 1- to 1 1/4 -inch cubes (I got one package of tuna from Costco – best deal!)
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Additional chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend; season to taste with pepper. Transfer 3 tablespoons marinade to small bowl and reserve. Add tuna to remaining marinade in medium bowl and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes.

Spray grill rack with nonstick spray. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill to desired doneness, turning frequently, about 4 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to platter. Drizzle reserved marinade over; sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

This tuna is soooo good, you won’t even believe it! That smoky taste from the barbecue, the ginger-soy-sesame combination, the heat from the chile, it’s all perfect. The leftovers are great served cold, over a salad or by themselves. I made a simple baked bread salad with heirloom tomatoes, basil, Parmesan, garlic and bread cubes baked with fresh mozzarella over the top.
This is great for these dog days of summer. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Sesame-peanut noodle salad

At work, we have lunch frequently catered and whenever we get The Carving Board, people go crazy for their Asian noodle salad: thin noodles with sesame and ginger flavors. After watching Ina Garten make her crunchy noodle salad a few times, I decided to try my own version of this tasty side dish. How wrong can you go with peanut butter, ginger, garlic, soy, sesame and scallions?

You can add your own twist to these salads – for me, I added blanched broccoli and roasted chicken breast, which turned it into a nice little lunch meal as well as a hearty side dish. As with all pasta salads, this gets even better the second day and can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.

Sesame-peanut noodle salad

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound thin whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound broccoli crowns, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, sliced diagonally
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400. Place chicken breasts on cooking sheet and rub with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender but cooked-through, about 25-30 min. When done, remove from skin and bone and shred into bite-sized pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain.

For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

Combine the spaghetti, broccoli, chicken, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

I brought this to a backyard barbecue and then ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. I think I like it best when cold. Enjoy, friends! xoxo