Balsamic Sesame Chicken
Continuing the chicken theme, here is another very simple recipe using boneless chicken thighs. This time I have used skinless meat. The thighs are cut into pieces, marinated in balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, and coated with sesame seeds. The balsamic vinegar adds tang and a little sweetness. They are then simply pan=fried in a non-stick frying pan that is barely coated with oil. I've used both black and white sesame seeds for a little added color, but you could use all-white (light brown) sesame seeds. (Using all black seeds might make them look carbonized!)
Recipe: Balsamic Sesame Chicken
- 4 small or 2 medium-large chicken thighs, skinned, any excess fat removed, and cut into small pieces
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 3 to 4 Tbs. sesame seeds
- A little cooking oil
Combine the chicken pieces, vinegar and soy sauce, and stir around to help the flavors permeate the meat. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Heat up a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, and add just a litte oil (or use a cooking spray) to coat the bottom.
Drain off the chicken, and coat with the sesame seeds. Press with your fingers so that the sesame seeds stick as much as possible. Arrange the pieces as flat as possible in the frying pan. Pan-fry for about 4-5 minutes on medium-high heat, then turn over and cook for another 4-5 minutes or so. The chicken should be cooked through, and the sesame seeds should be crispy rather than soggy. (Alternatively you can cook them in a toaster oven for 6-8 minutes at 200°C / 400°F or on 'high' (or equivalent setting), on aluminum foil.)
Cool before putting into your bento box.
Different cuts for different countries
It was pointed out in the comments to the salted chicken thighs recipe that boneless chicken thighs there usually come with the skin removed too. It's interesting how the types of cuts of meat offered in various countries differ. Here in Switzerland, I couldn't even get chicken thighs by themselves until a few years ago - it was the whole leg or nothing. Even now, boneless thighs are not that commonly seen prepackaged at the supermarket, though it is getting easier to find them. When they offered boneless though, the thighs usually come with the skins attached.
In Japan, boneless and skin-on chicken thigh is a standard cut, so you see it used in a lot of recipes. On the other hand, split bone-in chicken breast, a standard cut in the U.S., is not seen at all in Japan (or in Switzerland either)! Neither is the 'quartered' chicken, with two thighs-and-legs and two breast halves with the backbone still attached.
Anyway, to deal with my chicken dilemmas, soon after I started living in Switzerland I got a good boning knife and taught myself how to joint a whole chicken, so I could get the exact cuts I wanted. This is a very useful skill to learn for anyone, but expecially for the hungry and confused expat!
(Two other types of meat cuts that are very cheap and commonly used in Japan are thinly sliced (usugiri) and roughly chopped (komagire). Both are usually made from medium-fat (not lean) parts of pork or beef. Both are quick-cooking cuts that are really useful in bento, but frustratingly are not that commonly seen here in middle Europe, or in the U.S., unless you go to a speciality Japanese grocery store. I do try to keep these cuts of meat differences in mind when I post recipes here, but that does mean that there are whole categories of bento recipes that would be a bit too much work to use outside of Japan.)