Hunger Management

Fast, fried chicken coated with sesame seeds

This easy version using boneless pieces of chicken cooks quickly and with minimum fuss

There is no denying it. Sometimes, disruptors make life easier.

Take Uber, for instance. There is no longer a need to wait for taxis and put up with drivers who pick and choose their passengers. I can have a car pick up my parents and take them to appointments, or leave my wheels behind on a night out with many stops.

Food delivery apps are even better. After a tiring day at work, I can summon food by tapping on my phone. The grub arrives at my door, usually delivered with a smile and an "Enjoy your meal". Not all the food is good, but I have learnt through trial and error what not to order.

The problem is that, sometimes, there are hiccups.

Recently, I ordered fried chicken via a food delivery app. Even on a Saturday evening, the promised delivery time was just 25 to 35 minutes. After I placed my order, however, the 35 minutes stretched another 15 minutes. Then 15 more.

After the third (or was it the fourth?) delay, I had had enough. I called, cancelled the order and had soup that my mother had given me in her weekly care package.

  • SESAME-CRUSTED CHICKEN TENDERS

    INGREDIENTS

    12 chicken tenders, also called fillets (above), about 500g

    1 Tbs sesame oil

    1 Tbs shoyu

    2 tsp sake

    50g honey citron jam (below)

    100g Japanese mayonnaise

    100g plain flour

    Two 60g eggs

    150g untoasted white sesame seeds plus 50g untoasted black sesame seeds, or 200g untoasted white sesame seeds

    Grapeseed oil for deep-frying

    Chopped scallions for garnish (optional)

    METHOD

    1. Rinse the chicken under running water and pat very dry with paper towels. Place in a container with a cover.

    2. Mix the sesame oil, shoyu and sake in a pouring jug, add to the chicken and mix well with hands to coat the meat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

    3. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

    4. While waiting, mix the jam and the mayonnaise in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

    5. Measure out the flour onto a plate with a rim. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Mix the white and black sesame seeds on a plate with a rim.

    6. Dust each piece of chicken evenly and lightly with flour, dip it into the beaten egg, then cover with sesame seeds. Place on a tray or large plate lined with paper towels and repeat until all the chicken tenders are coated.

    7. Pour the oil so it goes halfway up the side of a deep pot and place over medium heat until a couple of sesame seeds sizzle instantly when they hit the oil.

    8. Fry the chicken tenders in batches, depending on the size of the pot and the size of the tenders. Do not crowd them. The chicken does not take long to cook - between 90 seconds and 1 minute 45 seconds. As soon as the sesame seeds turn golden brown, they are ready. Transfer the chicken onto a baking tray or large plate lined with paper towels.

    9. Place the chicken on a platter, sprinkle with chopped scallions if using, and serve immediately with the mayonnaise dip.

    Serves four to six as a snack

My friends laughed and said that clearly, the universe did not want me to have fried chicken that night.

Maybe because I had been thwarted, I really wanted - no, needed - fried chicken. The craving lasted through the night and went on to haunt me for days.

Finally, I decided I should just make a batch.

Deep-frying is not my favourite cooking method, mostly because of the mess that results. Over the years, however, I have come up with a way to do it with minimum fuss.

It involves using a small, deep pot (I use one that is 20cm in diameter and 10cm deep), filling the oil just halfway up the side and frying on medium heat.

I could, I suppose, have baked my chicken in the oven, but I was craving fried, and only fried would do.

Instead of going to the trouble of brining a chicken or soaking it in buttermilk overnight, I decided to make a quick and easy version using boneless pieces of chicken.

Rather than breading with panko crumbs or flour, I decided on sesame seeds. They give a good crunch and add flavour as well. But you still need a bit of flour to make sure the seeds stick to the chicken.

I used both chicken tenders, which are also called fillets; and skinless thighs. Truth be told, the thighs were more juicy. They will take a little longer to cook, but make good sliders with wasabi mayonnaise. I have opted for chicken tenders in this recipe. These strips of meat you pull off the underside of chicken breasts cook quickly. Gratification cannot be too instant when it comes to fried chicken.

For a dipping sauce, I used yuzu mayonnaise I bought from a supermarket fair celebrating the Japanese citrus fruit. Since the supply has dried up, I have made a version of it using honey citron tea, which is a jam to which you add water to make a refreshing drink.

The hacked version isn't quite the same, but its sweet and sour vibe goes well with the chicken. Just make sure to use Japanese mayonnaise because its intense, savoury flavour tones down the sweetness of the jam.

Other options include mixing Sriracha chilli sauce or wasabi with mayonnaise, or using a creamy Japanese sesame salad dressing.

As I was cleaning up after my chicken feast, I realised it had taken just about an hour for the cooking and cleaning up. Less than my fruitless wait for fried chicken.

Perhaps the biggest disruption of all might well be cooking instead of ordering take-out.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'Fast, fried chicken'. Print Edition | Subscribe